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The benefits of making time to be kind

Written by: Mandy Day-Calder
Published on: 8 Jan 2020

As an eternally optimistic person, I try to see the good in situations whenever I can and behave with kindness to the people around me.

Picture: iStock

Yet my faith in humanity was stretched after I was conned on a popular online selling site. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel angry, as I did. Being kind is not easy when you are angry or stressed.

However, once the dust had settled I made a decision that this incident would not influence how I see the world. As Max Ehrmann wrote in his inspirational poem Desiderata, ‘with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world’.

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Nursing is often regarded as a career for those with an intrinsically caring nature, veering on altruistic. But coping with the pressures day in and day out takes its toll. So where does kindness fit on your to-do list?

Overcoming the barriers

There’s no denying that resource pressures can ultimately affect the level of care you provide. Not only that, but they can erode your spirit and leave you drained of energy and the goodwill you need to be kind. So how do you overcome the barriers to kindness?

When my mother died a few years ago I was rocked to my core. Regardless of how ill she had been I wasn’t prepared for that level of grief. One of the things that gave me comfort then – and still does when I think of her last days – was that she was cared for in a kind and compassionate way.

What exactly do I mean by that? Reflecting back, I don’t dwell on the fact that the emergency department was running on empty, or that we had to wait hours before she was transferred to a ward. What I remember most clearly is that her nurses saw mum as a person, not a collection of symptoms or tasks to be done.

An effort to connect

The staff were under pressure, but in even the briefest of contacts with mum they were kind. They made an effort to connect with her on her level: through humour (she was pure Glaswegian and loved a good belly laugh), listening, preserving her dignity and appropriate gentle touch (mum was forever proud of her hair and took comfort from someone combing her thick locks).

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None of these acts are difficult or even time-consuming, but for those on the receiving end they make a world of difference.

Remember that you can’t change how others behave or how much money is invested in the NHS. But you can change how you respond to people or situations. Going back to Desiderata, ‘as far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons’. That includes being kind to yourself.

Mandy Day-Calder is a life/health coach with a nursing background. She runs a healthcare training company

This is an abridged version of the article The benefits of making time to be kind which was first published in Nursing Standard. 

Read more careers articles on Nursing Standard