A season of kindness

Mark Aitken, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Nurse & Midwife Support
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Happy summer and welcome to the Nurse & Midwife Support newsletter — sunny edition!

Our summer topic is kindness. We are excited to bring you a bumper newsletter that explores this wonderful human quality.

Kindness is important all year round, but we often devote special attention to it as we prepare to celebrate festive holidays like Hannukah, Christmas and New Year. Even if you don’t celebrate, the end of the year can be a time of reflection and even sadness. It’s a time when many people feel the absence of loved ones more keenly than usual; we miss those who live in far off places and grieve for others who have passed away. At this time of year many people need connection to acts of kindness that bring joy and comfort.

Recently kindness came into my world en masse.

My 85-year-old mother has always lived an active and independent life in her own home. Recently she fell and fractured her leg and pelvis requiring hospitalisation and home care. Around the same time, a dear friend had a premature baby and spent a prolonged time in hospital.

There is nothing like intense exposure to our profession in your personal life to remind you how KIND nurses and midwives are.

Health care professionals went above and beyond to meet care needs. They sat and listened to fears and concerns, offered kind smiles and words to express welcome and compassion. Nothing was too much, difficult or conditional. Cups of tea appeared. Neighbours and friends left food and flowers on the doorstep along with kind messages and offers to do anything needed. 

At the risk of being a ‘Pollyanna’, of course people aren’t always kind. At times the world can seem like we have lost our way. Sometimes if we turn on the news it can feel like kindness has evaporated. When I am faced with unkindness, I attempt to look beyond it and bear witness to my reaction and remain curious about what is going on for the person that they can’t be their best self. I try to live with compassion rather than judgement and avoid returning negativity that will serve neither of us. After all, I can’t control what others do, I can only control myself. Sometimes I ask the question: are you OK? Sometimes words and body language tell me to remain silent and walk away.

Do I always get this right? No, I don’t. I’m human. When I have an uncomfortable emotional response to an experience of rudeness or dismissiveness, I turn to mindful self-kindness: I return to awareness. I acknowledge the emotion and notice my body’s physical reaction. I refocus using breathing. I remind myself that being kind to myself is the most powerful thing I can do.

While thinking about this edition of the Nurse & Midwife Support newsletter, I read Everyday Kindness by Stephanie Dowrick, an Australian writer, Interfaith Minister and social activist.

This quote from the book resonates with me:

“At home, work and in the wider world, there are countless opportunities when a moment of consideration or kindness — given or received — will transform your day. Whether it is a hard time to be endured, or a wonderful time to be shared and celebrated, it’s our willingness to think well of ourselves and act kindly towards others that makes all the difference.” 

This year, in our third year, I have continued to travel the country promoting Nurse & Midwife Support. I have met countless nurses and midwives along the way who have kindly offered to take information back to their work place, write blogs or be my podcast guest. This has reinforced to me that the professions Nurse & Midwife Support serve are the reason for our success and have been a huge part of the evolution of the service. Kind words, kind deeds and values that include kindness motivate and promote a tide of kindness.

Be kind to yourself and others. It matters.

Mark Aitken RN
Stakeholder Engagement Manager
Nurse & Midwife Support