The science of kindness

The science of kindness

I think we can all agree 2020 had some challenges. And whilst it’s easy to focus on the negatives, it’s much better for our health and well-being to focus on the positives.

Random Acts of Kindness Days have been set up in the belief that all people can connect through kindness.

Everyone appreciates kindness and scientific evidence shows the positive effects of this on those giving, receiving and witnessing such acts.

Even the smallest act of kindness can make things seem brighter, the day more manageable and even change a life. So why not give it a go,?

  • Pay it backwards - pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the queue.
  • Surprise a neighbour or a friend with some baked goods.
  • Plant a tree to be kind to the environment.
  • Reply with a positive comment to a social media post you've enjoyed.
  • Commend a local business that has done something good.
  • Write a nice product review for something you've enjoyed.
  • Send a message to someone you haven’t spoken to for a while.
  • Write a nice comment on a co-workers LinkedIn account.
  • Be kind to yourself - take ten minutes for meditation or relaxation.
  • Treat a friend or loved one with a surprise gift.

And the list goes on… It’s easy to perform a small act of kindness but the benefits for all involved can be huge. The science behind these benefits is beginning to show the real value of kindness on our health.

Releasing feel-good hormones

When you do something nice for someone have you noticed that it makes you feel better? This is due to the pleasure centres in your brain. When you do something nice it boosts your serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for happy thoughts.

Reduces anxiety

A study on happiness concluded that “social anxiety is associated with low positive affect (PA), a factor that can significantly affect psychological well-being.” However participants who engaged in kind acts showed significant increases in PA. So being kind not only helps those you're being kind to but it also helps to reduce your own anxiety levels.

It's good for your heart

According to Dr David Hamilton, being kind to people releases a chemical in your heart. “Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessel. This reduces blood pressure and therefore protects the heart.” Maybe caring people really do have big hearts!

Can help you live longer

It may sound a bit far fetched but science is backing this theory. When you're kind to others you tend to form strong bonds and meaningful friendships. Recent research shows that you're at a greater risk of heart disease if you don’t have a strong network of family and friends.

Studies have also shown that those who volunteer are at a 24%lower risk of early death and spend on average 38% fewer nights in hospitals! 

Could reduce illness

In a Californian study it was shown that people who participate in random acts of kindness have a lower activity of leukocyte genes that are related to inflammation. That’s great news as inflammation is often linked to arthritis and heart disease amongst others.

According to a study of adults aged 57-85, “volunteering manifested the strongest association with lower levels of inflammation.” Oxytocin also reduces inflammation, and even little acts of kindness can trigger oxytocin’s release.

I think we can all agree that a kinder world is a better world, so go on, indulge in a random act of kindness.

 

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