Kindness is a gift that keeps on giving. Today is World Kindness Day but people don't often realise there's a difference in being 'kind' and being 'nice'. Bipolar UK Ambassador Leah Charles-King explains.

Since the start of the pandemic it’s becoming really common for people to experience low mood and anxiety; especially during national and local lockdowns. Feelings can grow more intense as the uncertainty becomes too much to bear for some. 


Mental ill health is on the rise and being #kindtoyourmind is more important than ever.  Caring for your mind is just as imperative as caring for your body.


Here’s some tips on how you can be #kind to yourself today (and everyday): 


1. Manage your thoughts

I’ve spent many years overthinking and in my own thoughts, which has caused immense confusion and upset. Everyone experiences unhelpful thoughts sometimes but the challenge is to think about what you’re thinking about. Being aware of these thoughts can begin to reduce the negative impact on your mental health. 


2: Practice mindfulness 

It’s not easy when feeling anxious, but try to live in the now and spend less time overthinking. Research has proven that staying in the present moment helps mental health. Mindfulness means focussing on what is happening now instead of being on automatic pilot. Many of us spend a lot of time in our heads – regretting the past, fearing the future or just trying to manage the challenges of the day which causes stress. Try and pay attention to the now. 


3. Keep a gratitude diary

I personally do this, and when I started about 2 years ago it literally changed my life. It was the start of a journey in changing my mindset from focussing on the negative to the positive instead. It’s easy to do and you only need a few minutes a day. When life is tough it’s easy to lose sight of the good things. Trying to stay focus on the good things trains the brain to focus on positive things. Trust me, you have more to be grateful for than you may think!


4: Food, mood and exercise 

“You are what you eat”; “Health is wealth”  are just a couple of sound bites I often hear people say. But it’s easier said than done when you’re feeling depressed or anxious. When I’m depressed I want to eat sweet things like cakes and doughnuts, but when I’m highly anxious I don't eat or drink at all. 


There’s loads of evidence that things like high sugar, fat, excessive drinking of alcohol can make people more depressed and anxious. Many people swear by regular exercise, yoga or long walks to combat depression and promote wellbeing. Again, easier said than done if you’re feeling low, but try not to set unrealistic goals and take one step at a time. 


5: Be compassionate to yourself 

When I feel low I tend to batter myself mentally but I’m really working on being more compassionate to myself like I naturally would towards a friend. If a friend is going through a tough time I immediately offer support and understanding, so why not afford myself the same grace? Self kindness helps me feel mentally better and less downtrodden. 


How are you kind to yourself? Join me to continue the conversation via Twitter


Written by @leahcharlesking

TV & Radio Presenter | Mental Health Warrior | Bipolar UK Ambassador