Yes, yes, we all know the old saying: “Be kind whenever possible – it is always possible.” It might be easy enough for the Dalai Lama, but when you’re stuck on the Metropolitan line in rush hour it can be difficult to stay kind and compassionate. However, there’s more and more research to show that being good is actually good for you.
We’re not saying you have to be the next Mother Theresa, but a few good deeds a month will set you in good stead. Here are a few of the known health benefits of being kind.
Lower stress levels
Helping others helps you to take a step back and evaluate your own stressors in a more objective way. Not only does it keep you in the present moment, it also helps you to build relationships (which are also proven to reduce stress and anxiety).
Reduced risk of depression
People who are kind are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. This is because performing a good deed gives you higher self-esteem and takes your attention away from ruminating on negative situations (a key factor in poor mental health).
Even a small act of kindness can trigger the release of oxytocin, the hormone associated with trust. Just a small amount of this hormone reduces inflammation in the body, which is linked to disorders such as diabetes, chronic pain, and obesity.
Being kind not only releases oxytocin. It also releases serotonin and endorphins, giving you a triple whammy of feel-good chemicals. The high you get from doing a good deed is very similar to the one you get after a challenging yoga class. All the savasana without the sweat? Sign me up!
It doesn’t take much to make someone else’s day better. A smile, a cup of coffee, or just taking the time to listen can make the biggest difference to someone’s day. The best bit? When you’re kind, everyone else becomes a little bit kinder too.