The Positive Effects of Kindness on Your Mental Health

Small acts of kindness don’t cost you anything to perform, but they are invaluable for your mental well-being. Being kind to someone else will turn your day around, and can spread joy to other people, too. When you intentionally do a good deed, it can improve your brain’s production of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that naturally boosts your mood and gives you a feeling of satisfaction and well-being called the “helper’s high.” Meanwhile, oxytocin, also known as “the love chemical,” reduces your blood pressure, helping improve your physical health as well.

By practicing kindness regularly, you can expect to see positive effects such as:

  • Stronger connection with others
  • Greater optimism
  • Improved self-esteem
  • More awareness of how fortunate you are
  • A sense of community and belonging
  • A decrease in negative emotions such as depression and anxiety
  • An increased likelihood that the recipients of your kindness will “pay it forward” to other people
  • Lower stress levels

Ideas for Practicing Random Acts of Kindness

If you need some inspiration to make a habit of being kind, consider the following.

  • You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to send a card or give a gift. Put together a “just-because” note or care package for a friend or family member and mail it to them.
  • If you have an elderly neighbor, offer to run an errand for them or help them with chores such as yardwork.
  • Let someone go ahead of you in line at the grocery store or pharmacy.
  • Keep loose change on hand so you can pay off other people’s expired parking meters. You can also leave money near vending machines to help cover the cost of someone’s snack or beverage.
  • Send a friend a text message to let them know you’re thinking about them.
  • Give a stranger a compliment.
  • Send supplies to a member of our armed forces serving overseas.
  • Volunteer for an organization or cause you believe in, such as helping in a homeless shelter or tutoring underprivileged children.
  • Treat the person behind you in line at the coffee shop.
  • Clean out your closet and donate any clothes you don’t wear anymore.
  • Write positive notes and leave them on people’s windshields.

Kindness is like an exercise – the more you practice it, the more naturally it will come to you. And, once you start looking for opportunities to be nice to others, you’ll see they are all around. How will you challenge yourself to spread joy and love?

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