There are dozens of ways to improve your health. You can eat nutritious food, maintain a healthy weight, take supplements, and exercise regularly.
Another way to influence your health is to perform random acts of kindness. As traumatic as 2020 has been on all of us, we could benefit from both providing and receiving random acts of kindness.
Studies have shown that random acts of kindness can provide the body with the following health benefits:
Acts Of Kindness
- Increases Your Love Hormone
By both performing and witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, our ‘love hormone.’ Oxytocin increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when anxious or shy in a social situation.
- Giving To Others Reduces Depression And Improves Your Sense Of Well-Being
When we’re depressed, it’s hard to feel good about ourselves. We’re quick to see our limitations and slow to remember our strengths. Helping others with random acts of kindness has been shown to make us feel better about ourselves and the world.
- Helping Others Is Good For Our Heart
Performing acts of kindness lower cortisol, our stress hormone. Helping others has been shown to protect against heart disease by reducing inflammation, especially C-Reactive protein.
- A Helper’s High
Studies have shown that putting the well-being of others before our own without expecting anything in return — or what is called being altruistic — stimulates the brain’s reward centers. Those feel-good chemicals flood our system, producing a sort of “helper’s high.” For example, volunteering has been shown to minimize stress and improve depression, and that’s not all. The same activity can also reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and even help us live longer. One reason for this, experts say, is because kindness contributes to our sense of community and belonging. And that, studies have found, is a pivotal contributor to a healthy, longer life.
- Lower’s Blood Pressure
Giving to others has been shown to lower your blood pressure. As mentioned earlier, proving acts of kindness produces a chemical called oxytocin, which helps dilate blood vessels and lowers your blood pressure.
- Pain Reduction
Engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins, the brain’s natural painkiller. Giving to others has also been shown to instantly deactivate the area of the brain that reacts to painful stimuli. When performing an act of kindness, that area of the brain is turned off.
If you start doing random acts of kindness, it’s likely that you won’t want to stop. The reason is a psychological feedback loop observed by researchers, which is peculiar to happiness and altruism: happy people are inclined to be more altruistic, and altruism makes them happier.
And here’s the good news: it seems acts of kindness can be anonymous or visible, spontaneous, or planned, and can be as simple as giving a compliment or opening a door for someone.
People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving helps to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sorting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more. This is a more substantial effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.
OK, you’re convinced and want to jump right into being a kinder and more helpful person. There are hundreds of ideas on the internet, but here are a few to get you started:
- While driving, make room for the car that wants to enter your lane.
- Let the person in line behind you at the supermarket go first.
- Give a genuine compliment to someone in the elevator with you.
- Do the same for your boss — they probably never get compliments!
- Let go of a grudge and tell that person you forgive them.
- Be there for a friend having a tough time. Don’t try to fix it; just listen.
- Leave your mail carrier a thank you note.
- Pay for a meal or a cup of coffee for someone waiting in line behind you. Odds are, they will pay it forward.
Remember, by performing acts of kindness, we are making the world a better place, but don’t forget – any act of kindness you give to others is also a gift to yourself.
If you feel anxious, stressed, or depressed, call Doctor’s Nutrition today at 1-800-824-0194 to find out what supplements can naturally alleviate those issues.
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- Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1045–1062. DOI: 10.1037/a0013262
- Hamilton, D. R. (2010). Why Kindness is Good for You. United Kingdom: Hay House.
- Luks, A., & Payne, P. (2001). The Healing Power of Doing Good. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.com, Inc.