Feeling overwhelmed? Scared? Anxious about the future? If you are, it’s a pretty natural response given the circumstances.

When we feel under threat our Flight, Flight or Freeze survival instinct kicks in, and we naturally notice, and focus on, negative and dangerous situations. This is what has enabled us to survive as a species. But at times of challenge, it is also important to pause, notice and reflect on the good that emerges.

We have seen amazing acts of altruism and compassion from our healthcare workers putting their own wellbeing at risk to look after others.

We have also seen many smaller random acts of kindness, teddy bears in windows to brighten a child’s day, shopping for a neighbour, children using their tooth fairy money to buy toilet rolls for people who have missed out.

We are witnessing this because kindness and compassion can also be a reaction to stressful situations or challenges. This is called the ‘tend and befriend response’ and it is related to our innate desire to protect our loved ones.

And here’s the really great news: Research has shown that it’s not just the person on the receiving end who benefits – doing good feels good for the person ‘doing good’, too! It increases our happiness, satisfaction and self-esteem. Being grateful has a similar effect – people who express gratitude regularly feel less lonely, more connected and are happier and healthier.

Watch gratitude in action! This really cool YouTube clip shows the power of appreciation, but a warning, it will bring a tear to your eye.

Your Challenge! Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

In the words of the wonderful Desmond Tutu, “we are each made for goodness, love and compassion. Our lives are transformed, as the world is when we live these truths.”

Here are 3 activities for you to try out over the next week to live your truth. Pick the one that you think will be the best fit for you and give it a go!

  1. Write a gratitude letter to someone you are truly grateful to have in your life (just like the video clip). Then call them and read it to them.
  2. Try this loving Kindness Meditation from Emma Seppala, Science Director of Stanford University’s Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research.
  3. Do a random act of kindness: check out these ideas for inspiration.

Be safe, be well and be kind.

Need help?

  • If you are experiencing a mental health crisis call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or MensLine on 1300 99 78 99.
  • For a list of national helplines and websites visit Beyond Blue
  • If you are concerned about the health and safety of yourself, family or friends, you can find government advice on Coronavirus and a 24 hour government help line for Coronavirus at 1800 020 080.
  • And here for more information on Financial Support


This blog is adapted from a Supporting Project of WoW, Mentally Healthy City Townsville www.mhctsv.com.au. Word document + study attribution and further resource materials are available on request. Contact Tony Coggins, Lead Associate Population Mental Health, Implemental (formerly Maudsley International) and WoW educator on wow@implemental.org for more information.

Wheel of Well-being is owned by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 4.0 International License. Information on this license is available at www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0. 

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