Being kind has measurable positive effects on health, wellbeing, and relationships - it’s science.
It’s way too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stresses of a busy and full life these days. But for this years ‘World Kindness Day’, we’ve been learning about how practicing kindness, even in small ways, can not only just help make someone else’s day better, but also benefits our own mental and physical health. It’s actual, proven science.
In fact, the fourth of the five pillars of mental health from the NHS is ‘Give to others’. Their research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:
- creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
- giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
- helping you connect with other people
Believe it. HumanKIND has evolved to physically and mentally depend on the kindness of others. So remember the power of being kind. You never know what someone carries inside…
‘What We Carry Inside’ by Senior Motionographer, Roberto Aguilar
KINDNESS RELEASES FEEL-GOOD CHEMICALS
“Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.”
Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle
When we do something nice for someone else, our brain releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that make us feel happier. This is sometimes called the ‘Helpers High’. Acts of kindness boost our mood by activating the brain’s reward centres.
Research has also found that keeping a gratitude journal and writing letters of appreciation can significantly improve mental health by increasing happiness and life satisfaction. The more acts of kindness we do, the more gratitude people have. It’s not a vicious circle, it’s a warm fuzzy circle!
KINDNESS REDUCES STRESS
Giving help to others has been shown to decrease stress levels. Hands up for who’d like less stress in their life?! Helping others enables us to feel a sense of purpose and can take our mind off our own worries.
“Decades of science…have made it clear that when we prioritize our wellbeing across six foundational behaviors—sleep, food, movement, stress management, focus and connection—we’re more resilient, more productive, and more creative.”
One study found that providing social support to others in stressful times resulted in a reduction in blood pressure and stopped the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Badass!
KINDNESS IMPROVES RELATIONSHIPS
Speaking of high stress, businesses are obviously full of it. Being kind fosters trust and strengthens bonds between people. We know how important that is in creative teams where we share a lot of our hearts and minds by way of bringing complex and emotional ideas to life. Having an expectation and practice of being kind increases feelings of social connection and emotional support.
When we are kind to others, they are more likely to “pay it forward” and spread kindness themselves. Back to that warm fuzzy circle! Doing good deeds can start a positive chain reaction where one act of kindness leads to several more. It’s likely we’d never know what kindness our own eventually inspired. Cute.
KINDNESS STRENGTHENS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Researchers have found evidence that being kind can boost the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies. Doing nice, helpful or ‘just because’ things for others causes the release of oxytocin, a hormone sometimes called the “love hormone” because it promotes attachment. Oxytocin causes immunoglobulin A to increase, which strengthens the immune system. Love and kindness literally heal us and prevent illness!
Science confirms what many religions and philosophies have advocated for centuries—there are actual, tangible health benefits to being kind. Small acts like holding the door open for someone, volunteering in the community, or complimenting someone’s work will trigger a knock-on effect of joy in your community or business and can significantly improve your mood and well-being.
How can you be kind today?