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Don’t feel alone. Reach out. Join our free online support group

We have created a wonderful Psychologies Connected Community group on Facebook to spread kindness, not fear. Join us, says Suzy Walker

by Suzy Walker

Psychologies is the UK's biggest and best-selling mindful living magazine and we are setting up this group to support and connect all our readers, their friends and family throughout this difficult time. We are inviting our brilliant community of Psychologies ambassadors, coaches, therapists and readers to support, inspire each other with tools, techniques, ideas, books, podcasts to keep our spirits up. We will be constantly posting good news and stories of kindness and support as well as interviewing the experts in mental health.

Our main focus is the science that proves that kindness is contagious. Led by Psychologies kindness Tsar Dr David Hamilton, we ask you to post examples of kindness so we can spread love, not fear. “Studies on kindness have shown that it creates protection from some mental health issues and even gives our emotions a boost. One of the reasons for this is that kindness takes us out of ourselves, even if only for a moment at a time. As we move our attention to the immediate needs of another person, our focus shifts away from how we’re feeling. As the focus shifts, the feeling begins to shift with it. Brain and body chemistry shift too, towards a more positive state.

Kindness is contagious 

The thing with anxiety is we want to shrink back when we feel anxious. Kindness, on the other hand, asks us to step up. It invites us to think of others, to empathise with their suffering, to consider their needs, what we can do to help. In that moment, our focus is no longer on our own anxiety but on the suffering or needs of another. With that shift, some of our anxiety begins to dissolve. The more we do this, the more anxiety we dissolve, and our minds and brains begin to understand that kindness really can heal.”

Kindness has been shown to infect people who are 3 social steps away from you. And when we say ‘infect’, we mean causing others to feel good and inspiring kind behaviour in them.

When you are kind to someone, on average that person will be kind or kinder to 5 people over the rest of the day due to how you made them feel through your kindness. Those 5 are at 1 social step from you. But each of those 5 will be kind or kinder to 5 further people. That’s 25 people at 2 social steps from you. But each of those 25 will be kind or kinder to 5 further people. That’s 125 people at 3 social steps from you ultimately benefiting from the single kindness you did. They are benefiting in receiving kindness plus a boost to how they feel.

Kindness is ‘circularly contagious’, which means it goes out in all directions, much as a ripple from a stone dropped in a pond sends waves in a circle, lifting lily pads all around the pond.

So that’s 125 people from one act of kindness. Imagine if you did one kindness a day for 7 days. That’s almost 900 people benefiting in a week. And imagine if you got all your friends to do the same. Say you had 10 friends, then between you you’d have impacted about 10,000 people in a week. That’s the side of contagion I like!

And imagine if 10 people followed your example and enlisted 10 of their friends. That would be 100,000 people infected with kindness within a week. Imagine if every one of our community did this? We will be affecting millions of people by the end of the month.

I'd like to thank…

We will be encouraging you to post letters of gratitude to anyone you'd like to thank. Maybe someone who has helped you get through today or this week? Whether it's the emergency services in the NHS or just your mum, write a letter and post it here. #Iwouldliketothank We will be broadcasting live over the coming weeks with our experts and columnists, therapists and coaches who will help give us information, tools and techniques to support our mental health and reduce anxiety. Psychologies magazine is focused on all aspects of personal potential and wellbeing, offering genuine food for thought and tools for living. It addresses what we're really like, not just what we look like, by focusing on helping us understand ourselves and the world around us. Here for you through times good and bad.

Join us!

I hope to see you in our Psychologies Connected Community on Facebook. Join us!

#kindnessiscontagious @davidrhamiltonphd @psychologiesmagazine @suzy_skywalker 

Image: Getty/iStock

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