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By Jennifer Cheang, MHA Digital Marketing Manager

Research indicates that those who consistently help other people experience less depression, greater calm, fewer pains and better health. They may even live longer.

Inspired by the idea that doing something for 21 consecutive days can help turn it into a habit, our partner Born This Way Foundation created the #BeKind21 challenge that calls on participants to practice an act of kindness – to themselves or to others – each day from September 1st to September 21st. 

Practicing acts of kindness may seem like little things, but they will go a long way to making sure that you and your peers feel better about their lives and more hopeful about their futures.

Not sure how you can use kindness to boost your mental health as well as others' mental health? Here are 21 ways to get started:

  1. Show some love to someone through a note, call, or text.
  2. Share what #mentalillnessfeelslike. There’s power in sharing.
  3. Tag a friend on a funny video. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.
  4. Go off the grid and spend time with someone face-to-face.
  5. Spend some time with a pet or volunteer at a shelter.
  6. Say “no” to social events that overwhelm you.
  7. Sign up to volunteer your time with a nonprofit.
  8. Do your best to enjoy 15 minutes of sunshine.
  9. Do something with friends and family like a game or walk.
  10. Take a walk with a coworker you haven’t spent time with.
  11. Donate items instead of money to charity.
  12. Treat yourself to dark chocolate to boost brainpower.
  13. Hold the door open for someone.
  14. Fill out an online petition or write to your elected official.
  15. Call someone you care about but haven’t talked to in a while.
  16. Help an elderly friend/neighbor run errands or do chores.
  17. Buy a cup of coffee for someone.
  18. Clean up leaves or garbage on your street.
  19. Tag someone you think could use a pick-me-up here.
  20. Check up on your mental health at MHAScreening.org.
  21. Be kind to yourself – give yourself a break.

Remember to take care of your mental health during the challenge. While it's important to show others kindness, especially when you don't know or you may not understand what another person is going through, you should also be mindful that your needs are critical. To help others, you have to care for yourself first. Remember, self care is not selfish - it's survival. Be kind to your mind.

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