Practicing kindness is great for your health & wellbeing and has a positive impact on those around you. Kindness is something that the world always needs, now more than ever.
The world has been plunged into a time of worry and uncertainty - be it due to the 'Covid 19' Pandemic, politics or other many other reasons.
Many people are struggling with their Mental Health & Wellbeing due to the current circumstances causing lots of depression, anxiety and an increasing sense of insolation.
This is why we should not lose sight of the importance of kindness in our every day lives.
Kindness is proven to increase our self-esteem, empathy and compassion which in turn, improves our mood and overall mental health.
What are the physical benefits of kindness?
Kindness realises feel-good hormones
When you practice any act of kindness for people, so called 'happiness hormones' are released, boosting your serotonin which is the neurotransmitter which is responsible for feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction. Endorphin levels also increase, leading to a phenomenon which is known as a "helper's high." Psychologists also identified a typical state of euphoria by those who engaged in charitable activity. It is called "helpers high," and that is based on the theory that giving produces endorphins in your brain that provides a mild version of a morphine high.
Kindness reduces anxiety
Another great benefit of kindness is that is can help to lower our anxiety levels. Social anxiety is associated with something which is known as a 'low positive effect,' which relates to a persons experience of positive moods such as joy, interest and alertness. The University of British Columbia conducted a four-week study that found that participants who engaged in acts of kindness displayed major increases in their endorphin levels (Also known as PA Levels) that were maintained during the study.
Kindness helps to alleviate and prevent illness
Inflammation in the body is linked to numerous health problems such as chronic pain, diabetes, cancer, obesity and migraines. For older generations at least, volunteering as an act of kindness may be of benefit to reduce inflammation. In fact, according to one study of older adults aged 57-85, “volunteering manifested the strongest association with lower levels of inflammation.” Oxytocin also reduces inflammation, and even little acts of kindness can trigger oxytocin’s release.
Kindness releases the hormone 'Oxytocin'
According to Dr. David Hamilton, “oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure).”
Kindness can reduce your stress levels
Helping others lets you get outside of yourself and can potentially help to build relationships with other people by taking a break from the stressors in your own life. This behaviour can also make you better equipped to handle stressful situations.
Any action that helps you to build bonds with other people is known as 'affiliative behaviour'. And, according to one study on the effects of pro-social behaviour (action intended to help others) — “affiliative behaviour may be an important component of coping with stress and indicates that engaging in pro-social behaviour might be an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on emotional functioning.”
Furthermore, once we establish an "affiliative connection" with someone — a relationship of friendship, love, or other positive bonding — we feel emotions that can boost our immune system. So, it seems continued altruism can boost your happiness and improve relationships and connections, in turn indirectly boosting your health.
Kindness and empathy help us relate to other people and have more positive relationships with friends, family, and even perfect strangers we encounter in our daily lives.
“Science and studies show that being kind and helpful clearly has a positive and uplifting effect on those carrying out the act.”
Besides just improving personal relationships, people who give of themselves in a balanced way also tend to be healthier and live longer.
And we all need to focus on kindness, particularly over this past period of uncertainty.