Showing a little kindness goes a long way in brightening someone’s day. It is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. A quick Google search will also result in words like affection, gentleness, warmth, concern and care.
With so much stress and anxiety in the world right now, we could all use a little more kindness. In fact, science shows us that the benefits of being kind are not only for the recipient, but there are real benefits to the one performing those acts of kindness.
- Kindness makes you feel good. You know that little jolt of joy when you do something nice for someone? That feeling isn’t imaginary – it’s from a boost of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being, confidence and belonging.
- Kindness eases anxiety. Social anxiety is associated with something scientists refer to a low Positive Affect (PA) which impacts moods such as joy, interest and alertness. Engaging in acts of kindness increases the PA, easing anxiety.
- Kindness is good for your heart. Oxytocin, a feel-good hormone released in response to kindness, prompts nitric oxide to be released into the bloodstream, dilating blood vessels and reducing blood pressure.
- Kindness prevents illness. Conditions such as diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity and migraines are all associated with inflammation in the body. One study of older adults shows that kindness, shown in the form of volunteering, reduces inflammation.
- Kindness can help you live longer. It’s a big claim, but possible. We know from studies that having a strong network of family and friends is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Being kind to others helps you develop these relationships.
So go ahead, improve your health. Here are some ideas of acts of kindness to get you started.
- Text someone good morning or good night.
- Plant a tree.
- Call your mom.
- Compliment your boss.
- Reach out to someone who may be feeling lonely.
- Contribute to the next school fundraiser.
- Make your partner breakfast in bed.
- Open the door for someone.
- Smile and say hello to someone passing by.
- Buy the person behind you in line a cup of coffee.
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
- Pick up litter.
- Thank a teacher.
- Donate hair to Locks for Love.
- Give your umbrella to a stranger.
- Send a care package to a soldier.
For more inspiration, visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.