Be Kind


‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted’


 We have all witnessed or heard stories of acts of kindness over the past few weeks. In this difficult time, friends and neighbours are coming out to help support the vulnerable, elderly and isolated members of their community. Kindness is a general term that means being friendly, helpful and generous towards others.


  • We are actually all hardwired to be kind – there’s growing evidence that compassion and kindness were essential to our survival as a species. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution noted that the communities that were most kind and sympathetic to one another flourished the best and raised the most children.
  • When people help unrelated others in acts of kindness, neurons in the reward and pleasure centres of the brain are firing away – it’s like nature’s way of saying, ‘this feels good, do it again!’
  • Kindness stimulates the production of serotonin, this has all sorts of benefits from healing, to calming and making us feel happy.
  • Endorphins are increased which are the brains natural pain killer
  • Oxytocin (the love hormone), is also released and promotes social bonding, calming, and encourages trust and generosity, as well as strengthening the immune system.
  • Kindness is the ultimate health kick, it not only relieves stress but can also slow down the ageing process!
  • Kindness is also contagious – we are more likely to be kind if we have witnessed others being kind, and even just witnessing acts of kindness still gives us all of the great health benefits!


  • Studies have shown that we actually get more happiness from spending money on others rather than ourselves. Is there something a friend, partner or parent could really do with right now? In the current situation it would have to be online shopping – maybe there’s a product out there that could help someone? Or maybe they just need a hug or a word of encouragement at this difficult time.
  • Kindness doesn’t always have to be about other people. Have you thought about doing something for yourself lately? Perhaps some self care or practicing a mediation? A loving kindness meditation is a nice one to try, this helps us to connect with the feeling of kindness towards ourselves before extending this kindness out to others.
  • Is there a Random Act of Kindness you could do right now? You may be stuck at home with your family, and it’s not your usual situation, so what can you do to make someone’s day a little easier? Offer to make a drink or lunch? Give a compliment. Run your partner a relaxing bath. Or even make sure they have some alone time! (very important when we’re all being asked to stay at home together)
  • Children at home – maybe you could make some gifts/cards or do some baking (with the help of a parent) to treat the others in your household.
  • A family kindness jar is always a nice idea – fill your jar up with notes of kindness towards one another and take it in turns to read out, or to do the kind act.

‘Be kind whenever it is possible. It is always possible.’

Online resources

Random Acts of Kindness  – Loads of kindness ideas on this website, and even includes an online forum.

KindnessUK  – Up to date articles on kindness, and lots of resources for children including kindness poems.

52 Lives  – 52 Lives aims to change someone’s life every week of the year. It is based on the simple premise that people are good, and lots of good people working together can achieve amazing things.

Artsycraftsymom – This one’s for the kids – some kindness craft ideas to do while they’re off school.


Loving kindness ‘The revolutionary art of happiness’ – Sharon Salsberg

Kindness ‘The little things that matter most’ – Jamie Thurston

Kindfulness ‘be a true friend to yourself with mindful self-compassion’ – Padraig O’Morain

Self-compassion ‘stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind’ – Kristen Neff

Guest blog by Ellie Fass-Roads.


Ellie is the founder of Kindfulmind. She teaches mindfulness, using the principles of kindness and compassion, to children, families and adults in and around Bristol.





Yesterday morning, I stepped outside and listened. I listened to the birds singing their morning chorus, I listened to the slow droning of the machinery in the field across from me, I listened to my footsteps as I slowly walked to the bottom of the garden. The crunch underfoot, the high-pitched intonations, the bass of the drone. A moment of presence.


The present moment is all we have, yet stress and to do lists and the mindless chatter in our brains takes our attention away from the present and into the past or future. If we don’t direct our attention it will go into autopilot, thinking, worrying and planning. Mindfulness helps us to cultivate awareness of the present moment, offering a rest from these autopilot traits and into a calmer state.

If we practice mindful listening on a regular basis, we will eventually find that it’s something we do naturally. This is because our brain continues to be malleable throughout our entire life, meaning that when we start something new and practice it, we can strengthen new neural connections in the brain.  This is called neuroplasticity! What’s exciting about neuroplasticity is it shows us that we can create healthy habits purely through practicing them!

Something as simple as mindful listening is a great place to start and can also be fun to do with your family.

Practice for grown-ups

‘Several times a day, stop and just listen. Open your hearing 360 degrees, as if your ears were giant radar dishes. Listen to the obvious sounds and the subtle sounds- in your body, in the room, in the building and outside. Listen as if you had just landed from a foreign planet and didn’t know what was making these sounds. See if you can hear all sounds as music being played just for you.’ (Bays 2011)

Practice for children

This activity is a great one to do outside. Get your child to make a fist with both of their hands, leaving their thumb open, get them to place their thumbs on either side of their head, to create two antlers. Get them to close their eyes and count as many different sounds as they can, raising one finger for every sound until their antlers are full. Recap on the sounds they heard in a minute.


Mindful by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

“Mindful” by Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early. © Beacon Press, 2005.


Mindfulness on the Go by Jan Chozen Bays

The Art of Mindful Birdwatching by Claire Thompson

Mindful thoughts for Walkers by Adam Ford

Sleep Well


Last year I was asked to deliver a keynote speech and four workshops for 100 carers who worked for a charity. The event was in London, so I travelled up from Cornwall the day before and stayed with one of my friends, who happened to live close to the venue. We decided to get a takeaway and on the way back to her house picked up a beverage, she chose a beer and I chose a Dr Pepper. I didn’t want to feel at all hungover so opted for the sugar kick instead.

What I failed to remember is that Dr Pepper also contains caffeine, and as I lay awake all night, I cursed myself for making such a careless error!


Matthew Walker is a neuroscientist and sleep expert who researches the impact sleep can have on our brain and body. He states that the phrase ‘sleep while you’re dead’ has very real implications, finding in his research that depriving yourself of sleep can actually shorten your life. Walker suggests that the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, but in reality, research suggests that on average we’re only getting five to six hours.

There’s a huge array of implications for not getting enough sleep. It affects your ability to remember new information and concentrate. It can affect your mental health with the NHS claiming that ‘chronic sleep debt may lead to long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety’. You’re also more likely to have an accident at home, work or on the road if you’ve not had enough sleep.

Walker states that getting enough sleep each night is the best health insurance anyone could need. He states that sleep is the foundation for good health and self-preservation. Yet unlike other healthy choices there’s a lot of shame attached to getting a good night’s sleep. We are proud to boast about our 5-mile run or the salad we’ve had for lunch, but if we claim to need 8 hours sleep each night, people assume we’re lazy.

So how can we ensure a decent nights sleep and make it part of our daily self-care practice?


These are Matthew Walkers ideas which he suggested in an interview with Dr Chatterjee on his podcast Feel Better Live More

  • Only drink caffeine in the mornings – if you have a coffee at midday a quarter of that caffeine will still be in your system at midnight. opt for decaf drinks! i.e no Dr Pepper before bed!!
  • Create a bedtime routine. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time in the morning. Leave a healthy window of time for you to acquire the sleep your body needs.
  • Avoid looking at blue light. The sun is a source of blue light as is any digital screen or LED bulb. If you’re bedroom is filled with artificial blue light your body will think it’s still daytime, so switch those lights down low and tell your body you’re ready for some sleep!
  • Sedation is not sleep. Avoid alcohol too! Alcohol affects the quality of your sleep, so avoid those nightcaps!
  • Associate your bed with sleep. If you’re laying awake for longer than 20 minutes get up and read a book, only go back to bed when your body feels sleepy. Avoid eating at this time too, otherwise you’ll start to associate no sleep with snacks. (Something I’m very guilty of!)


Matthew walker’s Ted Talk and book

NHS website 





It may feel hard to laugh in these unpredictable times, but I can guarantee it will make you feel better if you do. I see laughter as our body’s inbuilt resilience, something we can access if we know how too. I know laughter isn’t going to cure everything, but it certainly will ease some of the stress you may be experiencing.


Laughter has a multitude of health benefits. There is research to suggest that laughter can boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure and increase your pain threshold. Yet what I find fascinating about laughter is its ability to make us feel instantly better, to bring us closer together and make us feel connected to something bigger.

Laughter is a natural stress reliever; it helps to cathartically release suppressed or blocked emotions. It also gives us instant access to the present moment; because when you’re laughing you can’t be thinking about the past or catastrophizing about the future you are fully present.

I had a video chat with two of my best friends the other day, we talked about the C word and then went on to investigate the variety of ways facebook could transform our faces. At one point my face merged with a foot and then a thumb (pictures below) and my god did we laugh!


  • Smile – It really is that simple, smile in the shower, smile when you’re doing the washing up, smile, smile, smile! It lifts your mood, it relaxes the muscles around your eyes, and it gives you a kick of serotonin which makes you feel ace!
  • Try a laughter workout, this one by Robert Rivest is ridiculously silly in all the best ways and if you’re anything like me you’ll find it hard not to join in!
  • Surprise your colleagues with fancy dress. This idea came from an attendee of my Harnessing you Playful Presence day. Her job requires regular skype meetings and to make her colleagues laugh she decided to choose a new fancy dress costume for each day! One day she’d drawn a moustache on her face, the next she wore a big silly hat! Be playful! The world has gotten very serious, but there’s always room for a bit of mischief!
  • Play with and exaggerate your emotions, this might sound weird but it works. If you’re feeling angry, bored, frustrated, times that emotion by 10 and really play it out, exaggerating it until it feels ridiculous. You’ll find yourself laughing in no time!
  • Check out Laughter Yoga online, there are plenty of videos on youtube and practitioners offering laughter skype calls and all sorts. It’s silly but it will make you feel good, so what is there to lose?!


Laughter therapy by Annette Goodheart – How to laugh at everything in life that isn’t really that funny!

Laugh; Everyday Laughter Healing for Greater Happiness and Wellbeing by Lisa Sturge – a simple colourful book with lots of ideas and information about all things laughter.

The Happy Brain by Dean Burnett – Exploring the neuroscience of positive emotions.




This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!…

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


I love this poem because it illustrates the uncertainty of being alive. Like I mentioned on day 4, we love to have routine, because routine is predictable and predictable is safe. The unknown feels threatening. Yet the only thing we can be certain of is change.

My mum trained to be a hypnotherapist when I was a teenager. She decided to use the white family as guinea-pigs, trialling out her new hypnotising voice and visualisations. At this time in my life, I was so fearful of being out of control, of something going wrong or not being able to deal with the potential disasters that might be around the corner. I suffered greatly from compulsive thoughts and anxiety. The visualisation my mum chose has stuck with me and feels relevant to share with you now.

Imagine a small stream, with the water flowing over rocks and moving past obstacles. This stream then meets a point where it joins a fast flowing river, along with many other streams coming from all directions. The river then becomes a waterfall. Large quantities of water spill over the edge into a deep pool at the bottom. The water on the surface of the pool is turbulent, but deep down under the surface the water is calm.

The streams represent aspects of life; family, friends, finances, love, career and so on. The river represents these aspects of life coming together. The waterfall represents something unexpected. The turbulence of the water on the surface represents the shock and discomfort. The stillness at the bottom of the pool represents the ability to find calm in the face of challenge.

Sometimes life is beyond our control. We can’t stop the water from rushing over the edge, but we can accept it and find comfort in the calm of the pool.


  • Learn to inhabit your body, cultivate moments in your day where you are still, take some deep breaths in and out, find calm in that stillness.
  • Try a body scan meditation. This will help you to notice the sensations of your body without reacting to them, accepting whatever arises! For example, having an itchy nose and not scratching it!
  • Make friends with your vulnerability, discomfort or fear. Hold space for it, accept what is here and know that it will pass.

‘Bring acceptance into your nonacceptance. Bring surrender into your nonsurrender. Then see what happens.’ Eckhart Tolle


Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach- Accounts of people Taras worked with and loads of meditations to try.

The Tao of Pooh and the Tee of Piglet – Insights from pooh bear and piglet and how this relates to Taoist Philosophy.




For anyone who knows me well, they will know I’m a big fan of gratitude. I find great comfort in savouring the moments of joy, the snippets of contentment and the tenderness of connection.


We are designed to see and react to the negative things around us. It’s a survival instinct, we’re constantly scanning our environment, observing and preparing for any potential risks or threats.  Having this awareness keeps us alive and in many ways is a superpower. However, this means we naturally have a negativity bias, finding it easier to be negative about situations than positive.

It’s very easy to fall into this default setting when there is uncertainty in the air, but I could really think of nothing better to practice than gratitude in these threatening and restless moments.

Gratitude sets our focus to the good things. It cultivates an unwavering feeling of hopefulness, appreciation and joy. It helps us to notice and celebrate the moments, people, places, health and opportunities that we might regularly allow to pass us by.

‘Gratitude helps us catalogue, celebrate, and rejoice in each day and each moment before they slip through the vanishing hourglass of experience.’  Dalai Lama 2016

Some may be sceptical of gratitude, seeing it as unrealistic or ‘hippy dippy’. Yet in a study conducted by Professor Robert Emmons, he discovered that ‘grateful people do not seem to ignore or deny the negative aspects of life; they simply choose to appreciate what is positive as well.’ (Abrams 2016)

There is always a balance, you can’t live in this world without experiencing pain. Yet it’s important that like the sunflower we turn and face the sun. That we learn to savour the moments of each new day and marvel in how fortunate we are to be alive.


  • Before you go to bed think of three things that happened in your day which you are grateful for. With each thought invite the feeling of the moment into your body, let it fill your heart, let it unleash a smile on your face; allow yourself to bathe in the appreciation of each precious moment. I have done this practice off and on for many years, it’s a wonderful strategy to share with your partner, children, friends and family. I find it eases my mind before I go to sleep, and I’m sure it improves the quality of my dreams!
  • Find a gratitude rock, this could be a pebble from the beach, your garden, a riverbed etc. every night before you go to sleep go back over your day and remember all the good things that happened, then think of the ‘best thing’. With this in your mind, holding your stone in your palm, say ‘thank you’. I like this practice because it makes you search through your day remembering many good things in order to find the best moment. I also love that there’s a physical object that somehow holds or represents these moments of gratitude. (Bryne 1988)
  • Use your senses! It’s easy to get caught up in the chatter of your mind, so I often slow down and try and savour a moment; the rich taste of black coffee, the soaring buzzard above my head, the smell of wild garlic the heat of my shower in the morning. Pause and savour these sensory enlivening moments.
  • Make a gratitude diary. Write a list of the things you’re thankful for, when you wake up in the morning, over your lunch break or after dinner. You’ll find that once you start it’s quite difficult to stop!


The Magic by Rhonda Bryne (author of The Secret) – A book full of practical activities that make your experience of being alive just that little more magic!

The Book of Joy – a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abram – I devoured this book, so many thoughtful insights on fear, suffering, acceptance, compassion and gratitude!

14,000 things to be happy about – the title says it all (good toilet book)

Ask for Help


I’m the queen of analogies, being a very visual person, it’s always been a way that my brain makes sense of a situation. When it comes to asking for help here’s the analogy.

Let’s say you broke your leg; you wouldn’t hobble around for weeks, climb up and down the stairs, drive to the supermarket, go about your daily business, because your leg would be broken. Instead you’d call an ambulance, your partner, your mum and ask for help.


The problem with mental health is it isn’t as visually obvious as physical health, and because of this, the seriousness of the problem somehow feels less important. We are much less likely to ask for help when we’re feeling mentally low, but there’s really no difference. Dragging your broken leg around as if nothing’s happened, won’t help it to heal.

I work in a rehab centre for people with addiction and there’s a big sign on the door saying, ‘ASK FOR HELP’. We think we can work it out for ourselves, we think we know what’s best; we think it’s a weakness to say ‘I can’t cope’ when actually, it’s a strength.

The stigma around mental health is slowly changing, there are support groups and networks and charities and so much information online. In this current climate it is important that we voice our concerns, that we speak our truth and source help from our friends, family, community and professionals.

I am not a councillor or psychotherapist but I have suffered with anxiety, OCD and panic attacks in the past. I know how it feels to be mentally unwell, and I really couldn’t have got out of that place without asking for help.


NHS Website – a good place to start

Mind – loads of resources and ideas –  Including the following which i’ve copied from their website.

Some community and charity sector organisations may offer free or low-cost talking therapies. For example:

Other things

Fern Cottons Happy Place podcast– interviews with people who have suffered from poor mental health and their journey to feeling better.



Self-care is the practice of being gentle with yourself, however it’s not about being idle and this is where routine comes in.


When you were a child your parents or caregiver would have created a routine for you. You would have had a morning routine, which may have included teeth brushing and breakfast, then you would have stopped for lunch and maybe had some time outdoors to let off steam. The day would have finished with dinner, a bath, a bedtime story and tuck into bed. This routine helped you to feel safe; and because of our need as humans to stay alive, this safety became paramount to your wellbeing and emotional and physical growth.

As we grow older and we take on roles and responsibilities, our routines become so integral to our lives, they are what make us who we are. Yet in a time of uncertainty this pattern that we’ve become so accustomed to, may change. This, to many can feel unsettling, because it inevitably makes us feel like we are in danger.

However, if we are mindful, we can shift and create our routine to not only help to support our mental well-being, but also help us to grow in the direction we want to go. The phrase ‘I just don’t have the time’ is so common, yet I believe we all have the time, we just need to be willing to reinvent our routines in order to make the time.

Going back to the drawing board is a good place to start. Treat yourself like a child, give yourself everything you need to physically and emotionally grow. Reinvent your routine to feel resilient and thrive.


  • Find a morning practice that suits you, for some that may be yoga or meditation, for others it may be journaling or free writing. Something that centres you and declutters your mind before you start work.
  • Avoid looking at your device before breakfast, give yourself time to wake up.
  • If you’re working from home, take regular breaks, give yourself a clear lunch break where you’re not responding to emails or staring into a screen.
  • Get some fresh air, take yourself for a walk, pick some flowers, take in the colours of spring.
  • Make time for your interests and hobbies that may have fallen by the wayside. If you’ve always wanted to make soap, do it. If you’re enthralled by history, read about it. If you want to know the names of birds or bugs or trees, what’s stopping you? Give yourself time to learn, like you’d give a child the opportunity if they showed an interest.
  • Create a bedtime routine, switch off your device an hour before you go to bed, read a book or listen to a story, write a gratitude list, start a breathing practice. Give yourself the time to unwind; the time for your hyperactive thoughts from the day to disperse.
  • Do all the above guilt free, this is the time to be kind to yourself.


The 5am Club by Robin Sharma – A story that encourages you to get up early, create positive habits and utilise your time to improve your life

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle – A life changing book, and if you can’t be bothered to read it you can listen to Oprah Winfrey interviewing Tolle about each individual chapter on her podcast Super Soul Conversations.

Yoga with Adriene– Free yoga classes for all abilities led by a lovely kooky lady and her dog.


knit-869221_1920 (1)

One of my good friends said to me yesterday ‘What an earth do we do with all this time?’ ‘You need a project!’ I said.

Creating something new is immensely satisfying and very good for you.


Activities like knitting, writing, painting and drawing help you to reach Flow State. Flow State is the feeling you get when you become so engrossed in an activity that it begins to feel effortless. One of the main traits of Flow State is losing all awareness of time; you may have sat down at 5pm and the next time you look at your watch it’s 8pm. Where has the time gone? You’ve been in Flow!

Flow State was recognised and named by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 1975. He discovered that this highly focused state appears when your skills perfectly match the demands of the task, when you have a clear goal and a reward in mind and there’s immediate feedback. Csikszentmihalyi states that entering Flow can help you reach a sense of inner clarity, as when you’re engaged in Flow your mind is fixed on the challenge in hand instead of unnecessary ruminations. Not only does Flow State help you to find a moments peace (or 3 hours) it can also bring great satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

So, taking up a new hobby can really help to ease and focus your mind!


  • Pick up that dusty guitar and learn to play a new song – Ultimate Guitar Tabs is a good place to start.
  • Write a poem, write a song, write a short story, or simply do some free writing.
  • Extend your creativity out to the house, make tired furniture look pretty, revamp a shelf, make your houseplants jumpers.
  • Try out a new recipe, get creative in the kitchen.
  • Upcycle an old jacket, mend the holes in your favourite jumper, embroider over the dried paint on your jeans.
  • Take up a new hobby, something that feels challenging but achievable. This could be weaving, making jewelry, crochet, leatherwork, spoon carving, gardening, sewing, origami, wood work, model making, singing, calligraphy and the list goes on….

Apps for creating

Thisissand – An incredibly addictive app that you can download onto your phone or computer, which lets you create pictures using virtual sand! It’s hard to explain, picture below!

Pinterest– A well of art projects and ideas, which you can pin to a virtual board

Coffitivity – If you can’t create without background noise this is the app for you! Coffitivity recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work better.

Free knitting + crochet patterns

Katie Jones knit– Fun, bright, funky festival crochet projects, some are free some are not but all money goes to Katie, and I’m all for supporting the independent creators!

Ravelry– you have to sign up but it’s free and there’s loads of free patterns to choose from

Youtube – I have taught myself to knit using youtube, and if I can do it so can you! I’ve just finished my first jumper, it’s just a shame I can’t leave the house to show it off!!

For more ideas of activities that help you reach Flow State click here

See you tomorrow,






Social distancing may mean staying away from close friends and family, but it doesn’t mean we can’t connect in other ways. In fact, I think I’ve spoken to more close friends and family on the phone in the last few days than I would do in a whole week.

It’s an act of self-care to reach out and say ‘I’m scared’ or ‘I’m not coping well’ or ‘how long do I need to soak these pulses for?’!! Us humans need each other, and there are so many ways that we can prevent feeling lonely even when we’re alone.


The phrase ‘safety in numbers’ holds many truths. We are inherently social creatures; our ancestors would have quickly learnt that living closely together was crucial to their survival. That’s because when we’re living in a large group, we are better able to source food and water, be protected from predators, tend to the sick and protect our young from danger. It makes sense to stick together.

So, it can feel hugely counter intuitive to distance yourself from your tribe. However, we are very fortunate to have technology on our side. So, I encourage you to think creatively about connecting with your loved ones, any form of connection is going to make you feel listened to, loved and included, which are crucial to your well-being.


  • Organise a weekly Skype date with a friend. Me and one of my friends have decided to meet over Skype every Tuesday for lunch. Just having this in my now unpredictable diary feels like a real lifeline.
  • Move your groups and meetups online. This week my choir decided to meet on Zoom, a video conferencing platform which lets you call multiple people at the same time. With a lot of trial and error we decided the best way of singing ‘together’ was to have one person lead a song and the rest of us switch off our microphones and sing along in our separate parts. Even though this didn’t give the fullest effect of singing in a group, it felt good to sing in harmony with the lead and lovely to see a whole bunch of singing faces!
  • Write some letters. I don’t know about you, but I love receiving a letter! It’s such a treat to recognise someone’s handwriting and to have something physical from your loved one to stick on your fridge! Writing a letter will naturally encourage you to make time to sit down and check in with how you’re feeling. Sending it to someone in your life that might not have access to technology means they’ll also benefit.
  • Speak to someone you love. Hearing a familiar voice is so comforting, so pick up the phone and call someone you love.
  • Cook with a friend. I have a friend who’s not the most confident cook, In the past I’ve promised to write down recipes but never got around to it. So to stay connected I’ve told her to contact me when she gets stuck and I’ll do an over the phone ready steady cook with her.

If you have any ideas or are organising any online event, please get in touch and i’ll add it to the list!