How Kindness Helps Improve Wellness
Posted by Teri Levy on
Kindness is a beautiful thing—even science says so. Although we’ll automatically say “thank you” to our server or hold the door open for someone, how often do we stop and think, with intention, "I should do something kind for someone today"? Chances are, given our hectic lives and mounting responsibilities, not that frequently. However, did you know being kind to others can actually help you, too? Read on to find out how.
“It’s when you love yourself, others and the earth you feel most beautiful”
– Emilie Hoyt, founder of LATHER.
1. Kindness Can Lessen Anxiety
Studies have found that doing acts of kindness for others significantly reduced social anxiety. Participants who performed acts of kindness were more likely to be receptive to—and less likely to avoid— social situations.
2. Kindness Improves Your Mood
Did you know that simply counting your acts of kindness during the week can increase "subjective happiness"? People who practice kindness regularly report more positive experiences in their lives as opposed to dwelling on the negative.
3. Kindness Helps Lower Stress
Chronic stress can cause a variety of problems, including sleeplessness and lowered immunity (both of which we know can also make your complexion look dull and fatigued). A study performed on toddlers up to age four found that acts of kindness resulted in a better overall response to stress, resulting in faster calming down after an adrenaline spike.
4. Kindness Elevates Overall Physical Health
Helping others, even in minor ways, makes us feel better about ourselves, especially when that kindness is met with gratitude. A study conducted on older adults who engaged in kind acts, like volunteering in their communities, found that they tended to have lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the body and can also lead to increased infections, like pneumonia and heart disease.
5. Kindness Lowers Blood Pressure
Have you ever noticed how doing something nice for someone else can give you the warm fuzzies, a warm, pleasant feeling in the region of your stomach? This can be a direct result of increased oxytocin in the brain (sometimes referred to as the "cuddle hormone") that promotes bonding and empathy. It’s also known to lower blood pressure, which can help protect the heart from cardiovascular disease.
Small Ways To Practice Kindness Regularly
You probably already have an idea of how to be kind, but actively making it a part of your day can accumulate into something greater—for others and for yourself. Here are some things you can do every week to make everyone happier and more radiant.
- Give genuine compliments to others (with a smile, of course).
- Call friends and family on the phone just to chat and check up on how they’re doing.
- Volunteer at a charitable organization or in your community.
- Talk to a homeless person instead of walking past them.
- Perform an act of thoughtfulness for a friend or coworker, like fetching them a mid-day cup of tea, posting a memorable picture on Instagram of your friend or if you have time, offering to walk their pup!
- Spend a few hours at the beach or around the neighborhood picking up litter.
- Don’t forget to be kind to yourself! Pencil in something this week to do something that lights you up, even if it’s as simple as a bath or taking an hour to (finally) read your favorite book.
- Tip extra during a meal or salon visit.
- Send “just because” flowers to a loved one.