It is easy to see the positive effects that our acts of kindness have on others. They are the recipients of something good that can bring joy into their day. The recipients of our kindness, however, are not the only beneficiaries of our actions. In fact, scientific research supports the idea that being kind can have many benefits to our physical and mental health. So, being kind to others is also an act of kindness for yourself.
Kindness releases three hormones and neurotransmitters that can help increase our overall health. They do not only stimulate pleasure centers in the brain. They also release more hormones and other chemicals that lead to health and happiness in many areas of the body.
Also known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin plays in important role in sexual arousal and in helping us recognize our loved ones. It also promotes trust and reduces anxiety, and it plays a role in creating positive social interactions. By activating this hormone through acts of kindness, you can improve your social life and strengthen your bonds with others.
This mood-stabilizing hormone increases happiness levels and promotes feelings of overall wellness. It also improves sleep and digestion. As acts of kindness increase the levels of this “happy hormone,” your mood will improve, you will feel more well-rested, and your sense of joy and health will increase.
We frequently associate this euphoria-producing neurotransmitter with “runner’s highs” and other forms of intense exercise, but kindness can be just as effective at producing it. Even without the full euphoria, it can decrease pain and stress levels and boost immune response, leading to a decrease in both physical and mental pains.
In addition to producing these hormones (and, partially, as a result of them), acts of kindness provide several other health benefits. Some of these benefits are lowered blood pressure and better heart health. As a result, frequent kindness-promoting activities such as volunteering, donating to a cause, or even comforting a friend could increase your life span and reduce aches and pains.
From a psychological standpoint, kindness reduces your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and helps protect against anxiety and depression. In fact, many antidepressant medications work by releasing serotonin, so the serotonin boost produced by kindness has significant mental health benefits. Acts of kindness can also help increase self-esteem, making it easier to overcome social anxiety.
Kindness activates the pleasure center of the brain. It can produce a similar feeling to eating a piece of chocolate, engaging in your favorite activities, or spending time with loved ones. Therefore, it increases your levels of joy and energy.
It is easy to spread kindness. Anyone who experiences kindness as a giver, receiver, or even a bystander could experience the same rush of happiness. And this widespread stimulation of pleasure centers makes others more likely to be kind as well. By being kind to others, you are being kind to yourself and even to those you have never met, as kindness spreads from person to person.
The world can always benefit from a little kindness. Promoting positivity is one of the best things that you can do for others. But it is also one of the best things you can do for yourself. Decreasing stress, improving mental health, and living a long life are all made easier by the simple act of being kind. Making someone else’s day can make your day, too.