Kristina Cavit is the Founder & Director of The Kindness Institute, our Charity of the Month for January. The Kindness Institute provides support, education, and works to promote mental health and wellbeing in Aotearoa, primarily through developing mindfulness and resilience capabilities.

Kristina has spent the past 9 years working with marginalised communities facing stress and trauma in New Zealand and around the world. She has trained with world leadingorganisations including Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Center for Mindfulness through the University Of Massachusetts Medical School, The Holistic Life Foundation, supported by Harvard and John Hopkins Medical School, and The Institute of The Work of Byron Katie. Kristina is also the founder of NPH New Zealand, which supports almost 4,000 orphaned and abandoned children in Latin America. We caught up with Kristina to find out more about her and her work, and what inspires her each day.

Hi Kristina! Can you tell us a little about your background? And how The Kindness Institute started?
The Kindness Institute was started after I spent the past 9 years working with youth and communities dealing with stress and trauma, in my mahi I saw that those who had access to the tools to manage challenges and improve resilience and wellbeing, were those who thrived. I started teaching yoga and mindfulness with children who had been orphaned and abandoned at the NPH homes in Latin America and was blown away by the calming impacts. In Aotearoa, I was asked to share these tools with rangatahi who have been kicked out of school and was even more taken aback by how much they loved it and benefitted from it! I went on a research trip with the purpose of looking into mindfulness-based mahi with marginalised communities and started The Kindness Institute to work towards ending our youth mental health crisis.

What inspires you to get up in the morning?
The rangatahi I have the privilege of working with. This mahi can be hard but working with them inspires the hell out of me.

What does an average day look like for you?
It can be anything from developing our mindfulness programs, to teaching in a school, alt ed, youth justice, facilitating our program ATAWHAI with marginalised rangatahi, doing one on one coaching sessions, working with our badass volunteers, advisors, partners and board members, running teacher trainings, public speaking, admin and the never ending search for funds to keep all the mahi going!

How do you incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine?
I have a daily practice every morning. Before I fall asleep each night I also make sure to think about three things I am grateful for from that day so I fall asleep with a happy heart! I also do the work of Byron Katie when I get stressed out - this is a tool that helps you to question stressful thoughts and it is a game changer! It is so practical and always changes my perspective for the better.
I also try to squash the pressure on women to work around the clock and try to take time out, be alone in nature and disconnect from technology as much as possible.

Why is it important that children learn about positive mental health?
Aotearoa is facing a youth mental health crisis and we want to change this by giving youth the tools they need to manage stress and improve their mental health and resilience. NZ has the highest teen suicide rate in the developed world & The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2025, 80% of people will have suffered from a mental health condition throughout their lives. There is a need for evidence-based mindfulness and wellbeing programmes that provides young people with tools to manage stress and anxiety. Without positive mental health, our young people cannot thrive and poor mental health tends to predict adult mental illness. We need to support our young people to know that their mental health is more important than their success, I believe we also need to role model this as adults. By making friends with our minds and taking care of our selves, this has a ripple effect on all of those around us.

What are 3 things we can do easily each day to help our mental health and overall wellbeing?

  1. Find some time just for you each day
  2. When things feel too overwhelming, pause and take 3 deep breaths
  3. Move and send some love to your beautiful body

What exciting plans are in store for the Kindness institute this year?
We plan to continue supporting our rangatahi to transform their own mental health through our core program ATAWHAI. We are also branching into running teacher trainings for all teachers, youth workers and health professionals working with youth! We are super excited about our trainings and coaching programs so that our mahi can reach more young people throughout Aotearoa.

How can people get involved in helping The Kindness Institute?
Check out our volunteer opportunities here! You can also shop at HealthPost.co.nz and over the month of January, HealthPost will donate $1 when you select The Kindness Insitute as your charity of choice at checkout.

What are your favourite natural health products and why?
I love the Weleda products – they always feel and smell SO good!

Watch our Facebook Live Q&A with Kristina

HealthPost is proud to be supporting The Kindness Institute as our Charity of the Month for January. When you shop online, simply select The Kindness Institute as your charity of choice after checkout, and we'll donate $1 - at no extra cost to you.