Forum: Giving to others is a powerful form of self-care

People crossing the street in Jurong East on July 17, 2020. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

I agree with Professor David Chan that the act of giving encourages positive attitudes and experiences, which in turn builds communities that nurture positivity amid Covid-19 (Foster positivity amid Covid-19 challenges, Aug 1).

It has been almost four months since the circuit breaker was implemented. While Singapore slowly opens up, Covid-19 remains a threat.

Businesses are struggling, and a study in April showed that almost two in three workers in Singapore feel more anxious and stressed.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology has found that performing acts of kindness improves the well-being of the giver, as well as the recipient, and could provide a simple, effective and inexpensive means of addressing social problems ranging from social isolation to mental and physical health conditions.

A more recent study published in the Journal of Social Psychology suggests that performing acts of kindness towards our close connections, acquaintances and ourselves - and even just observing acts of kindness - has equally positive effects on our happiness.

In a social distancing world, giving to others answers our need for human connection, and is a powerful form of self-care. So how can we show kindness in the new normal?

Reach out to family, friends and colleagues with a phone call or text, especially the elderly who live alone.

Ground-up initiatives such as GoodHoodSG and Kampung Kakis connect neighbours who need meals, or other forms of social assistance, to neighbours who are willing to help.

Giving social support - time, effort or goods - is associated with better overall health in older adults, and volunteering is associated with delayed mortality, a University of California at Berkeley study concluded.

Being thoughtful can also make a difference at home. Offering to run an errand for a family member, or simply expressing how much you care for loved ones, can brighten their day.

These everyday acts of kindness will surely build more positive, supportive and resilient communities that will enable us to overcome challenges as one.

William Wan (Dr)

General Secretary

Singapore Kindness Movement

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2020, with the headline Forum: Giving to others is a powerful form of self-care. Subscribe