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Sharing Kindness…It’s a Win-Win

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not. – Dr. Seuss

If ever there was a time to show kindness to others, it’s now.

National Random Acts of Kindness week is celebrated February 14-20 this year, with February 17 designated as Random Acts of Kindness Day. For those of you who are wondering what’s happened to good, old-fashioned kindness in what seems to have become a world of nastiness and disinterest, this is your time to show it still exists.

The practice of random acts of kindness began in a restaurant in Sausalito, California in 1982 when patron Anne Herbert scrawled the words “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat. From there it gained powerful momentum, and by February 1993 stories of random acts of kindness were appearing in nearly every newspaper in the U.S. and hundreds of radio stations were devoting airtime to the cause. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK), a nonprofit organization, designated February 17 as National Random Acts of Kindness Day in 1995 and the second week of February as National Random Acts of Kindness Week in 2018.

Sharing kindness with others not only benefits them, but it also boosts our own health and wellbeing. Researchers found that when people do something good for others, they feel better themselves. A 2018 study conducted at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, examining the brain scans of 1000 participants, found that acts of kindness measurably activated the reward centers of the brain. In addition, they discovered that the more altruistic the gesture the more the brain’s reward areas illuminated.

For those of you who’d like to be a part of this national celebration, leading by example by spreading kindness, here are few suggestions from RAK to get you started. (For more resources, visit randomactsofkindness.org.)

  • Pay if forward – pay for the coffee or meal for the person in front of you in line.
  • Leave a kind note for someone, without an explanation.
  • Share words of encouragement or compliment a stranger. You never know who really needs this, and how much it is appreciated, especially today.
  • Drop off a load of groceries at your local food pantry.
  • Put your skills to work for someone in need (e.g., offer to create a resume for someone looking for a new job).
  • Mail a “Thinking of You” card to someone you’ve not talked to in a while.
  • Send a meal to someone in need through a delivery service (DoorDash, Uber, Grubhub, etc.).
  • Run errands for a neighbor or friend in need – many people can’t get out and shop right now, so on your next trip to the supermarket offer to pick up needed groceries or medicine. You can still practice safe social distancing by leaving the goods on their doorstep/porch and giving them a quick call to let them know it’s there.
  • Phone a family member or friend – you may not be able to see your family and friends who may be struggling right now, due to the pandemic, but you can take the time to call them and really listen. Cheer them up by talking about topics they really enjoy and remind them that they are not alone.
  • Be kind to yourself – after you’ve done good for others, do something nice for yourself (e.g., take that long-overdue soak in tub scented with a relaxing essential oil). This and sharing kindness with others will make you feel good all over.

Creating a Memorable Staycation

Who’s ready for a vacation? After the past several months, the better question is, who isn’t? Many families, however, are putting their travel plans on hold until the coronavirus outbreak subsides and their financial situations stabilize. But, you can still take a break from the stress and tension of everything going on around you and recharge and rejuvenate, all while creating lasting memories with your family, with an affordable staycation.

The key to the perfect staycation is to research, plan and prepare for it like you would for your traditional, out-of-town vacation.

Here are few research ideas and planning ahead tips to help you make the most of your staycation:

  1. First and foremost, your staycation, like a traditional vacation, requires you to take the time off work, blocking off your schedule just like you would if you were leaving town.

  • Make a list of your favorite local restaurants that deliver and plan a few staycation, take out dinners.

  • Load up your DVR or WatchList queue – Catch up on a series you’ve wanted to watch or download a marathon of your favorite movies. Have them teed up in your watch list for easy access and don’t forget to have plenty of popcorn and candy on hand!

  • Check out books at your local library or download a good read on your Kindle or Nook.  Your staycation is the perfect time to relax on the couch or in the backyard hammock and immerse yourself in a great novel.

  • Download some recipes you’ve been interested in trying out and add the necessary ingredients to your staycation, grocery shopping list.

  • Set up an area in the backyard for a bonfire. Make sure to have a generous supply of seasoned wood and kindling on hand, and don’t forget to add graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars to your shopping list for those yummy, campfire s’mores.

  • Pull out your favorite board games and a deck of playing cards. Add your favorite snacks and drinks to the grocery list and be ready for a marathon board or card game tournament night. Get your competitive family spirit going by keeping score and offering the winner a gift card to his or her favorite store for the prize.

  • Visit the websites of places of interest and see what they have to offer virtually. Numerous museums, art galleries, zoos and parks offer very inexpensive or free ways to take virtual tours. In addition, sites like Google Arts & Culture offer the opportunity to explore cultural institutions across the globe like the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Guggenheim in New York City for free.

  • Get the supplies needed for a water park in your backyard. Sprinklers, slip and slides and buckets of water balloons will create some great hot weather fun for the whole family. Buy or build your own cornhole board game for some additional backyard fun.

  1. Plan to truly unplug and disconnect. Your staycation is for you and your family so do your part to make it a real vacation. Set up an out-of-office email response, silence your phone, turn off your computer and let your colleagues know not to bother you unless it’s extremely urgent.

  1. Get the chores done before you begin your staycation. Pay your bills and do the laundry, house cleaning and lawn work, and stock up on the groceries and essentials for your staycation activities.

  1.  Build excitement for your staycation. Like a traditional vacation, put the dates on the calendar and begin counting down to your staycation. Print out a staycation calendar and as you and your family decide on your plans/activities, mark them on your calendar.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Get your family together and add your own creative, out-of-the-box activities to make this is a fun and memorable family staycation!

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