We hear a lot about kindness and the power of being kind. This may be in part because of the current political, economic and environmental climate. The things we most value and attach meaning to have gained importance for us. Volunteering during the pandemic to deliver food to those who couldn’t leave their homes or made calls to those who felt alone became an essential act of kindness. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, many people have taken in refugees and donated to charities combating this humanitarian crisis. These are just some examples of kindnesses we’ve witnessed over the past three years. These acts of kindness give us something to believe in and help us stay positive and hopeful, especially as we come into the holiday season. Tis’ the season for appreciation, gift giving; not just in a monetary sense but volunteering time to help others and most importantly – Kindness whilst caring about our fellow man.
What Does the Science say?
There has been research done on kindness and its effects on us, but there is still much to learn. One recent experiment performed in the Canadian city of Vancouver sought to demonstrate the impact of kindness on our own happiness. People walking down a city street were given an envelope containing either $5 or $20. Half were told to spend the money on themselves, and the other half were told to use the money on someone else or donate it to charity. That evening researchers asked each person to rate their mood. Those who had spent it on someone else felt significantly happier than those who spent it on themselves. Neuroscientific research backs this up by showing that the feeling we experience when doing something nice for someone else shows up in our brain’s reward system.
Acting Kindly & Helping Others (Including Nature!) Makes Us Feel Good!
There is a wealth of evidence that TCV’s Green Gyms and other nature-based programmes provide proven benefits in improving peoples’ happiness, health and wellbeing. Green Gyms not only benefit you, but nature and your local community. They create that feeling of escape and removal from day-to-day life and stressors through delivering activities that give you purpose. You can see the transformative results of your actions whilst building strong and meaningful relationships with like-minded people.
There are countless ways we can be kind, positively impact nature and each other. Some of these can also help on saving energy costs, something we could all benefit from.
- Start saving water: If you can consciously shorten your shower time by a few minutes, you’ll be helping to save valuable water for rivers, bays and wetlands. You could also purchase a water efficient shower head. Making sure the laundry basket is full and using the washing machine on a low temperature can also help save water and energy. Equally, make sure not to fill the whole kettle for one cup of tea. In the garden, water before the sun comes up or after it goes down to reduce evaporation and only when it is necessary.
- Recycle and reduce waste: Putting our recyclables into the recycling bin or even picking up litter on the road can go a long way in helping to protect our planet, animals and sea mammals. For something bigger and more sociable, try joining a clean-up crew. Many of our Community Network groups have recycling programmes. To avoid waste in general we can also think more about what we purchase and choose sustainably made products where we can or at least buy recycled such as ‘pre-loved’ clothes. Bring your own bag when you shop to avoid accumulating unnecessary plastic waste. If you can reuse items you already have, even better. If you don’t need an item anymore but it could still be used by someone else, consider donating it to a charity shop or selling it online, or in a vintage market
- Recycle and reduce waste: Putting our recyclables into the recycling bin or even picking up litter on the road can go a long way in helping to protect our planet, animals and sea mammals. For something bigger and more sociable, try joining a clean-up crew. Many of our Community Network groups have recycling programmes.
- Gardening for wildlife: If you have access to a garden, grow plants, shrubs and trees that attract local wildlife like bees, butterflies and other insects. TCV and our Community Network groups offer countless volunteering opportunities that tend local gardens if you don’t have your own. Planting wildflower meadows is another fantastic way to show kindness to our planet. Creating more space for locally native species to thrive, will help boost local biodiversity and promote enhanced wellbeing of not only wildlife, but the community.
- Eat sustainably: Where we get our food from is critical as the more locally and organically, we source our food, the better for the environment. Decreasing the shipping of our food reduces its carbon footprint. Cutting down on dairy and meat also reduces our individual carbon footprint. Growing your own food can be a very rewarding experience and is also the kindest way to care for the environment, especially when using sustainable and local methods and seeds. Getting an allotment or volunteering with TCV in our garden community spaces across the UK are great ways to get started.
- Volunteer: Volunteering is an amazing way to be kind to the planet while having fun and making friends. At TCV, you can volunteer in a myriad of ways from helping to plant wildflower meadows and trees, to building stiles, to growing food and recording wildlife. You can also donate to local organisations or simply spread the word about how to help nature.
This holiday season, keep kindness in mind, not only in the gifts you give but also how you spend your time. Why not join TCV while we support people to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, by being outdoors in nature, active and connected with others, making this a Christmas to remember.
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