Choosing to be kind has a positive effect on your mental health. According to psychology today, kindness involves selfless actions and a mindset that places compassion for others before your own interests. Research shows that “Performing acts of kindness impacts mental health by increasing the neurotransmitters in the brain that make us feel satisfied and good.
Happiness researcher Christine Carter writes, “people who volunteer, tend to experience fewer aches and pains.” She reports Helping others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People who are 55 and older who volunteer for two-or-more organizations have a 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after shifting out factors, like physical health, exercise, gender, smoking, and marital status.
Acts of kindness can increase the hormone that makes us feel connected to each other and helps us trust each other. A study in the journal Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science found that people who practiced a kind mindset lowered their stress hormones by 23%. Try practicing random kind actions towards others every day and see what a difference it makes.
A research study out of the university of British Columbia in which a group of highly anxious individuals performed at least six acts of kindness a week found that after one month there was a significant increase in positive moods, relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social anxiety. In other words, in this study, acts of kindness reduced anxiety.
We have discussed how research indicates kindness is a powerful way to enhance your mental health.
Here are some ways you can practice kindness in your life:
- Let someone else go first.
- Give an unexpected gift.
- Pay for the person behind you in the drive-through or the grocery store.
- The next time you’re in a restaurant, if able, leave an extremely generous tip.
- Do a chore for someone without telling them.
- Write a handwritten note telling someone something you appreciate about them.
Friends, make kindness a daily practice and see what a difference it makes.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCCS, Executive Director