We have all heard the old adages “Love and kindness are never wasted”, “It’s nice to be nice” and “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. Extensive research in moral and social psychology has widely demonstrated the vast benefits of kindness in increasing prosocial behavior, promoting beneficial community outcomes, enhancing learning in the classroom and that kindness is just overall good for your general wellbeing.
This article will not only show you how but will also remind you of the various health benefits associated with kindness.
Four science-backed ways to improve your health through kindness
Kindness releases feel-good hormones
Have you ever noticed that when you do something nice for somebody else, it instantly makes you feel better too? This is not just something that happens by chance— these nice gestures create physical changes in the pleasure centres of your brain. Kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This feel-good chemical heals your wounds, calms you down, and makes you feel joyful and content!
Kindness eases anxiety
Anxiety is a universal human experience and is our body’s natural response to stress. While there are several ways to reduce anxiety, such as exercise, a balanced diet and meditation it turns out that being nice to others is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to keep anxiety at bay!
In a study carried out by the University of British Colombia (2013), a group of highly anxious individuals were asked to perform a minimum of six acts of kindness a week. After one month of carrying out acts of kindness, the researchers’ found a significant increase in the participants’, relationship satisfaction, an increase in positive mood and a decrease in social avoidance.
So, the next time you’re feeling a little anxious, look for opportunity to help someone. This could range from opening a door for someone to calling a friend for a chat to lending your time to volunteer for a charity. Even a small gesture can make a huge difference!
Kindness can help you live longer
Loneliness and isolation places you at greater risk of developing heart disease, therefore it is important to maintain a strong network of family and friends. When we are kind to others, we give ourselves the chance of developing strong, meaningful friendships which can increase our life span!
So, go ahead and socialise to expand your network friends, or invest some extra kindness and compassion into the ones you already have.
It reduces stress
Due to our ever-changing and busy day to day lives, we need effective ways to reduce our stress… However, achieving a sense of calm is easier than we think!
Through helping others, we get a chance to step outside of our problems and take a break from the stressors in our own lives, and this kind behaviour can not only increase our resilience, but it also makes us better equipped to handle stressful situations in the future.
Affiliative behaviour is any behaviour that helps us develop relationships with others. According to a study on the effects of prosocial behaviour on stress “Affiliative behaviour may be an important component of coping with stress and indicate that engaging in prosocial behaviour (action intended to help others) might be an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on emotional functioning.”
Some simple kindness ideas to get you started!
Kindness to Self
- Give yourself a compliment
- Engage in your hobbies
- Have a nice relaxing bath
- Treat yourself to a massage or practise a self-massage
Kindness to Others
- Call up a friend and ask them how their day was
- Hold the door open for a stranger
- Help a colleague in the office with a project
- Volunteer for a charity or cause of your choosing
Kindness to the Environment
- Pick up litter in your local neighbourhood
- Water the plants
- Recycle at home and at work
- Buy second hand clothes
With random acts of kindness, the proof is in the pudding! Pick 2-3 of these simple gestures to act out and see how you feel.
Here at Zevo Health, we specialise in a wide range of workplace wellbeing trainings that focus on areas such as kindness, self-care, work-life balance and stress management which are all designed to enhance an individual’s wellbeing.