Random acts of kindness

August 14, 2020

Living through the pandemic, I’d hazard a guess, has been both an eye opener and a leveller for almost all of us. 

Being locked down and shut away from all the familiar trappings and figures in our lives, watching countless key workers, struggling to care for the sick, put food on our tables and keep the infrastructure running, was humbling.

It stripped back the pace and the way that we lead our lives. Thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, life became focused on the bottom three levels of the pyramid. We wanted to feel safe in our homes with our nearest and dearest around us as much as possible and be fed and watered. 

We’ve all heard about the heightened focus on tending our gardens, baking, learning new crafts and keeping fit. The weekly clap for key workers provided a much needed connection with others and brought local communities closer together on a compassionate and uncomplicated level.

The NHS GoodSam volunteer responder app attracted more than 750,000 volunteers and communities were inundated with local support for community hubs. In fact there were more volunteers than people requiring aid. The spirit and enthusiasm behind it were heartening.

 Many of us wanted to find other ways to offer help too. Doing something positive primarily comforts the receiver but it also soothes the giver. When we do something caring for our family, cooking their favourite foods, doing their washing, buying things for them etc – it fans a need to nurture and to be needed. This is why when our kids grow up and spend more time with their friends and ultimately leave home, often we feel bereft and looking for renewed purpose.

I like to bake and cook and find that it relaxes me and invokes my creative side. I found this heightened during lockdown. My son returned prematurely from university and as a fussy eater provided few opportunities to satisfy my need to provide culinary fuelled nurturing.

So I was able to meet my needs in another way. Work was pretty stressful, I needed to relax and avoid food waste when baking to alleviate my stress. That’s when my random acts of kindness started. Periodically, I would bake things in between (home) office work and then would mentally flick through my address book and drop baked goods off on various doorsteps. I got to try out some new recipes and brighten up someone’s day without putting on any weight! And my reward was that it gave me a lift to cheer people up during a strange and uncertain time for all of us.