The Power of Kindness and Its Benefits
Kindness was the theme for last week’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2020. The Mental Health Foundation used the week to show the importance of kindness. Just because Mental Health Awareness Week is over, doesn’t mean acts of kindness need to stop! Instead, let’s continue adding more kindness into our lives, because why the hell not. In these difficult times, we could all do with some extra kindness more than ever. Not forgetting that by being kind to others, we actually get a load of benefits for ourselves.
The benefits of spreading kindness
The world has become such a harsh place nowadays that the concept of spreading kindness might seem pointless. But that doesn’t mean we can’t light up the world with kindness on a smaller scale. Think about times in your life when someone has shown just a little kindness to you. Surely you got at least a mini boost of joy. There’s no denying that when you experience kindness you get a little boost of happiness. Just imagine how the world would be if we were all just that bit kinder to each other. Not forgetting that being kind to others also makes you feel good too.
Besides making yourself feel good in general by being kind, there are actually scientific benefits too! Thanks to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation I can share with you the proven benefits to being kind.
What does kindness increase?
The Greater Good Science Center (sounds like a nice place to work) studied the link between kindness and energy. They found that half of the study participants felt stronger and more energetic after helping others! Participants also felt calmer, less depressed and had increased feelings of self-worth.
The Love Hormone
Who doesn’t want more of the love hormone? Apparently even just witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin a.k.a. the love hormone. Said love hormone helps to improve our overall heart health and increases our self-esteem and optimism.
By spreading kindness through things like volunteering we can increase our lifespan! Apparently helping others helps protect our overall health and is arguably 4 times more effective at this than exercising.
Turns out being kind makes you a happier person! In 2010 Harvard Business Review surveyed people in 136 countries to find their happiness levels. They found that people who donated to charity were happier overall!
The Helper’s High
When we are spreading kindness our brains’ pleasure and reward centres light up. This supposedly makes us feel like the recipient of the good dead when we’re helping others, resulting in the helper’s high!
Why wouldn’t we want more of this feel-good chemical that heals wounds, calms you down and makes you happy!
What does kindness decrease?
Acts of kindness produce endorphins in the brain. The body’s natural pain killer!
Stress & blood pressure
It’s been found that people who are regularly kind have 23% less cortisol in their system. Cortisol is the stress hormone, meaning that kindness lowers your stress levels and slows ageing! As we already know, being kind releases oxytocin. As well as being the love hormone, oxytocin also lowers blood pressure.
Anxiety & depression
Anxiety and depression are shit and no one deserves to experience them. The link between mental health and kindness was studied by the University of British Columbia and a professor in bioethics. They found regularly engaging in acts of kindness reduces both anxiety and depression, at the same time as increasing wellbeing.
How we can bring more kindness into our lives
There are many different ways we can bring more kindness into our lives and the lives of those around us. Being kind usually takes the shape of small actions that need minimal effort. By adding more acts of kindness to our lives, we can make the world a nicer place in these tough times.
With social distancing measures in place, it might be a little harder than normal to engage in acts of kindness. To help out, I’ve brought together 6 ideas to help kindness flourish despite our 2-metre rules.
1. Be kind to yourself
Let’s start by being kind to ourselves. Sometimes we can all be a bit hard on ourselves. Our minds can be chattering away passing judgement on everything we do. Unfortunately, the judgements we pass on ourselves typically lack compassion. Being kind to yourself can sometimes involve breaking the pattern of how we talk to ourselves. A good place to start can be to try noticing what thoughts come up. Are you being mean or supportive of yourself? Do you criticize or believe in yourself with every part of your being?
If we can notice we aren’t being very kind to ourselves, that means we can make a positive change! So instead of judging yourself when things go wrong, why not learn from it and be proud that you completed it! I’ve had to actively change my thoughts even writing this blog. I love my blog so much and I’m so proud of myself for putting myself out there. But sometimes life gets in the way and I can’t always get my writing done according to plan. When I started out I made myself feel guilty about this. Since then I’ve changed my thinking. Now happy that I’m still committed to creating content for my amazing readers, even when life gets in the way.
Being kind to yourself doesn’t just include how you talk to yourself, but also how you look after yourself. When was the last time you treated yourself or set out some time to fully relax? Give yourself some attention, you’ll feel much better for it. If you aren’t kind to yourself, there’s no way you’ll be able to look after those you love and spread kindness without burning out.
2. Give someone a call or text
Is there anyone you haven’t heard from in a while? Why not check in one them by a call or text? Who knows, if you haven’t spoken for a while you might have more to talk about than what you’re having for lunch and how boring lockdown has been!
The thought itself and action itself is so kind. We can even go one step further by actively listening and showing interest in someone. People love to talk about themselves and share exciting things in their lives. All of our lives are so full, it isn’t often we actively listen to someone else. Ask plenty of questions and clear your mind by concentrating on what they’re saying. Whoever it is will really appreciate the kindness, and by spreading joy you’ll have a boost of happiness too!
3. Make someone a cup of tea
We are a nation of tea drinkers and there is no denying that. We live up to the stereotype! Making someone a cuppa is such a small act of kindness that goes a long way. If you aren’t a tea drinker maybe switch it up considering summer is here. Nothing beats a nice cool refreshing drink being brought to you whilst you lap up the sunshine. Whoever you’re living with will appreciate the small gesture!
4. Teach kindness to others
It makes sense that we can teach kindness to others, regardless of how old they are. Dr Ritchie Davidson found that teaching kindness is a lot like weight lifting. By exercising our compassion ‘muscle’ we tend to respond to others’ suffering with more care and an increased desire to help. We can do this by encouraging others to participate in an act of kindness or let someone be around you to witness your kindness. Lead by example as they say.
5. Show support to others
There are so many people trying to create something great. Often smaller projects just need a bit of momentum and awareness spreading to take off. The type of kindness I’m talking about here is really really simple. Considering we are all following social distancing rules the best way to support someone’s business or passion project is to show support on social media.
A simple like, follow or share is spreading the word even more. The project might not speak to you, but with your support, it can reach a wider audience. Imagine if everyone you knew gave you just a little support for a project you’re trying to pursue. Your project would have more momentum for sure! Think how happy you’d be. That’s how effective the simple act of kindness in the form of showing support on social media can be.
Spread kindness in your own way
These suggestions are just that, suggestions. They may or may not spread kindness in your opinion. Why not try something new when spreading kindness? The point is if we are all just a little bit kinder in this world, we can create a wave of kindness and happiness to flood our lives and those around us lives’ too. Spread happiness in your own way, no matter what that is, it will be appreciated.Until next time, Mica x