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People walking together with their arms wrapped around each otherIt’s February, and we all know what that means…enter Valentine’s Day, the day of the grand gesture. Stores are full of heart-shaped boxes, movies are full of run-through-the-airport romantic moments, and roses are suddenly everywhere. It can seem that this day about love is really about acting (and spending!) beyond our means. But, Valentine’s Day isn’t the only day worth celebrating during this short month. 

On February 17th, join us by participating in Random Act of Kindness Day…a day to celebrate the small gestures and actions that can make a huge difference, without costing a penny. Random Acts of Kindness Day is meant to serve as a reminder to take an active role in spreading positivity within our lives and communities. 

What do random acts of kindness have to do with mental well-being? You’d be surprised! According to the American Psychological Association, researchers believe that “Acts of kindness may more effectively improve social connection and related dimensions of well-being than prevailing cognitive behavioral therapy techniques,” even providing a distraction and reframing opportunity for those with depression and/or anxiety. 

Want to spread some kindness in your own life? Here are some simple ways to get started:

  • Plan ahead: We know, we know… ”random” acts of kindness are supposed to happen on their own. That said, sometimes a little planning goes a long way. Think about the people you’re likely to encounter throughout your day and what you need in terms of supplies, time, or money to bring some kindness to their day. If you want to leave a nice note on a co-worker’s workstation, make sure you have cards or post-its. If you’d like to let people go ahead of you in line at the grocery store, make sure to budget some extra time. 
  • But, leave room for spontaneity: Of course, as you move about your day you may discover unexpected opportunities for kindness…don’t let us hold you back! You can even make it a game for yourself, challenging yourself to seek out, recognize, and act on those opportunities.
  • Enlist a friend: It’s well documented that having strong community and interpersonal relationships supports our mental well-being. Use this opportunity to connect with a friend, colleague, or loved one and invite them to participate in Random Acts of Kindness Day. Afterward, compare notes…how did your kindness experiments go? What surprised you most? 
  • Keep it going: While these designated days are a fun way to bring attention to acts of service, acts of kindness go a long way every day of the year. We’re challenging you (and ourselves!) to pick one Act of Kindness habit that you commit to doing regularly. This could be as small as smiling at a stranger, or as big as scheduling a weekly or monthly volunteer shift. Every action counts towards making our community and our world a kinder place. 

If you need inspiration, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has you covered with this list of 50 ideas. Surprise yourself by picking a number between 1 and 50 and “assigning” yourself the corresponding act of kindness. 

You’ll notice that all of the examples are simple, but the impacts that they have can be much bigger than the effort it takes to enact them. In fact, research shows that “…while a giver looked at the value of the item or action, the receiver saw greater value in the warmth of the gesture and the positive social interaction.” Even the smallest of actions and gestures makes a big difference to the person receiving them.

And if you could use some kindness and support, remember that we’re always here to help you find care resources that fit your life, just dial 844-YOU-OKAY to reach our free, confidential support line for Tampa Bay. We’re here for you.

Until next time, 

Your Team at Tampa Bay Thrives

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