We all know being kind makes us feel good, but did you know it’s actually good for your health, too? It’s true. Doing good is like medicine for your mind and body with far-reaching impacts that will totally surprise you. Check out these 11 ways kindness improves your health (courtesy of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation):
- Kindness increases the “love hormone.” Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone,’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism.
- Kindness lowers blood pressure. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardio-protective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.
- Kindness increases your energy levels. According to Christine Carter of the UC Berkeley, Greater Good Science Center, “About half of participants in one study reported that they felt stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.”
- Kindness increases happiness. A 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who were generous financially, such as with charitable donations—were happiest.
- Kindness increases serotonin. Like many antidepressant drugs, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin – a feel-good hormone that helps heal your wounds, calm you down, and make you happy!
- Kindness decreases pain. Engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins, the brain’s natural painkiller!
- Kindness reduces stress. Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population.
- Kindness decreases depression. Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortune are increased.
- Kindness reduces anxiety. In a study conducted at the University of British Colombia, A group of highly anxious individuals performed at least six acts of kindness a week. After one month, there was a significant increase in positive moods, relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals.
- Kindness increases feelings of pleasure. According to research from Emory University, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper’s high.”
- Kindness increases your lifespan. According to Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness: In Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, “People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.”
Will you join in the kind fest? Try it as a family to teach your kids an invaluable life lesson. Hold the door for someone. Write a nice letter to someone. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway. Write a thank you note for your school’s janitors. Leave a note with a happy quote on somebody’s windshield. The possibilities are endless!
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