The power of kindness

11 November 2021

UCL Student Support and Wellbeing are celebrating World Kindness Day, a day dedicated to the power of kind actions, however big or small they may be. We're kicking off the celebrations early on Friday 12 November, hiding little surprises across campus.

Kind notes in the library for world kindness day

What is World Kindness Day and why does it exist?

There’s no doubt the past year has highlighted the importance of compassion and how acts of kindness and selflessness can have a big impact on those who need it. From physical to virtual actions, we've learned that kindness costs nothing and empathy is everything.  

It’s for this reason that the World Kindness Movement established World Kindness Day in 1998, with the aim of “inspiring individuals towards greater kindness by connecting nations to create a kinder world”. Its main purpose is to encourage people to go out of their way to be kind to others and spread some positivity on 13 November every year. The recipient could be a friend, a relative or even a complete stranger.  

Chances are you’ve probably come across the phrase ‘the power of kindness’ before, but you may be thinking, what does it actually mean? Various studies have been conducted to investigate the impact of kindness on our psychology. Results have shown that when we help someone, a chemical called oxytocin is released in our brains, in turn making us feel good by working to reduce stress and improve self-esteem and happiness – all pretty powerful stuff! 

But wait, there’s more. Not only does being kind make us feel good, there’s actually scientific proof that the positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnesses the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to ‘pay it forward’. So one simple act of kindness may not seem like a big deal for you, but you could be creating a domino effect of kind actions throughout that day. 

Being kind to others  

You can celebrate World Kindness Day in many ways, big or small. You might want to stop to lend a hand to someone struggling with something, buy a coffee for the person behind you in line, or just take time to listen to a friend who may be having a tough time. If you’re looking to make a bigger gesture, why not look at the volunteering possibilities with the Students’ Union? There are plenty of opportunities around you to get involved in spreading the kindness this Saturday and beyond. Of course 13 November isn’t the only day to be kind, but hopefully after reading this post you’re more aware of how one of your kind acts can cause a wave of generosity and compassion.  

Being kind to yourself 

Last but not least, as we’re approaching assignment deadlines, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Whether you’re a first year undergraduate completing your first assignment or a postgraduate who has experienced academic pressures before, remember to take regular study breaks to rest and recharge. Fittingly, next week is National Self Care week so keep an eye out for the activities that Student Support and Wellbeing have planned, to support you with tools to help look after yourself.  And remember, Student Support and Wellbeing is here for you if you'd like to speak with an adviser or counsellor. 

Find a surprise

Here at Student Support and Wellbeing, we’ve decided to start the kindness chain on Friday 12 November. Across the UCL libraries on the Bloomsbury campus, we're hiding little surprises to help you spread kindness. If you find one, share a photo on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and tag UCL Student Support and Wellbeing on @UCLcares to spread the kindness, and be in with a chance to be part of our prize draw to win coffee for you and a friend (deadline Friday 19 November). We hope these inspire you to be kind to both yourself and others, and pay forward the act of kindness!  

Keep an eye out for surprises in the Main Library, Student Centre, the Science Library, Cruciform Library, Institute of Education Library, School of Pharmacy Library, the SSEES Library, and the Bartlett Library. Need a hand? Check out our @UCLcares Instagram story on Friday for some clues...