It’s Mental health awareness week and there’s no better time to talk about kindness and its several benefits to mankind, especially in these unprecedented times. I bet we’ve heard the phrase, “it’s good to be good” a number of times. Apart from it being an age long saying, it has been scientifically proven to be true.
The dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Quality being a standard, distinctive attribute or character we need to possess as an individual.
Psychologically, acts of kindness make us feel grateful, empathetic, and compassionate. These are positive feelings that give us a sense of belonging and community. Besides just improving personal relationships, biologically, kindness can actually make for healthy wellbeing. Research has shown that people who are kind and compassionate are more satisfied with their lives, have better physical and mental health, and have stronger and better relationships.
There is a good feeling you get when you show some kindness both to yourself and to others. This is especially true for the vulnerable, like people recovering from depression, or who are learning to live with dementia, or who have some form of addiction. Showing some form of kindness to these people can increase their wellness, thus aiding their recovery. It can also help them overcome loneliness, build healthy relationships and improve their self-worth. Everyone has the capacity to be kind. All you need do is give yourself to it. You may want to ask how. Here are a few ways:
- Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while;
- Help others with small chores like cooking for your significant other or running an errand for your parents;
- Volunteer: volunteering is a very effective way of giving of yourself to others who may not even be able to pay you back.
- Take care of yourself by reading a book to exercise your mind or going to the gym to exercise your body;
- Forgive someone who may have hurt you or who you may have had a fall out with.
- Send handwritten notes of gratitude to someone you admire or who has helped you out
- Help people out by giving away what you no longer want or need
- Smile often, both at friends and at strangers. Smiling is contagious and it makes you feel good too if people smile back.
- Let people know you love what they do. It could be someone you know or people you admire, it helps build confidence in them.
Below are some science proven benefits of kindness:
- Kindness eases anxiety: while there are several ways to reduce anxiety, such as exercise, meditation, prescribed medications to mention a few, it turns out that being nice to others can be one of the easiest, most inexpensive ways to keep anxiety at bay. So, the next time you are feeling anxious, seek an opportunity to be of help to others, one way of doing such is by volunteering.
- Kindness can help you live longer. According to Health.com, you’re at a greater risk of heart disease if you don’t have a strong network of family and friends. When you are kind to others, you develop strong, meaningful relationships and friendships.
- Kindness reduces stress: By helping others, you get outside yourself and take a break from possible stressors in your own life. This attitude can also make you better equipped to handle stressful situation(s).
- Kindness releases hormones like oxytocin also referred to as the“love hormone,” or the feel-good hormone, which helps us form social bonds based on trust and empathy. Our brains reward us when we do kind things. If you comfort someone who has lost a loved one, your brain may release oxytocin, a hormone that helps us bond with others. Oxytocin makes us more trusting, generous, and friendly. Additionally, kind actions signal our brains to release serotonin and dopamine, two chemicals involved in creating“helper’s high”and lessening pain, depression, and anxiety.
It is worthy of note that we are genetically wired to be kind. As you give, so you receive. Give genuine kindness and make the world a better place.