The world has been going through a lot lately and many are confused by the global pandemic. Right now, people need kindness. People need love. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t seem so kind and loving lately. People have been hoarding toilet paper and food. Putting their own interests above others. It makes the world a scarier place. What the world really needs is kindness and the bonus is there are many health benefits to kindness.
Research has shown us how harmful fear and stress can be for the immune response and it’s also shown us how beneficial kindness can be. Now, I know none of you are kind for your own benefit. You just want to help others and that is how it should be! Your kindness can benefit the person receiving the kindness but also to anyone witnessing your kindness. Yes! It helps people who see our kindness. You’re making the world a better place and potentially getting a kindness kickback yourself.
Let’s take a look at the healthy benefits of kindness.
5 Healthy Benefits of Kindness
- Reduces Stress and Anxiety
- May Reduce Inflammation
- Gives You More Energy
- Reduces Pain
- Increases Lifespan
1 – Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Studies have shown that kindness can reduce stress and anxiety. Connecting with other people is good for you! Those who regularly participate in acts of kindness have been shown to have 23% less cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone and increased levels can be so detrimental to your hormonal health and longevity.
In fact, it has been shown that being kind increases happiness. There are so many happy hormones that are released when you participate in kindness like serotonin and oxytocin. And oxytocin helps reduce inflammation which leads us to our next benefit.
2 – May Reduce Inflammation
One study that looked at whether participating in different activities reduces inflammation later in life found that volunteering had the strongest association with lowered inflammation. (1) The study found that volunteering could be protective against inflammation and illness associated with it. That doesn’t mean you can eat inflammatory foods and ignore other causes of inflammation but it’s a good sign that kindness is good for you!
3 – Gives You More Energy
The University of Berkley found in a study that 50% of people felt more energetic and stronger after helping others. (2) Being kind might give you more energy to do more good, for yourself and others! Some may call this a “helper’s high” because it’s similar from the endorphin release you get when you exercise.
4 – Reduces Pain
That endorphin release that gives you a “helper’s high,” also helps reduce pain. Kindness releases dopamine, serotonin and endogenous opioids. There isn’t a more natural painkiller than kindness.
5 – Increases Lifespan
Volunteering is a great example of a form kindness and all those healthy benefits of kindness may add up over the long run. People who volunteer are more likely to live longer. Another University of Berkley study found that seniors who volunteered regularly for 2 or more organizations had a 44% lower likelihood of dying during the course of the study. (3) Some research suggests volunteering only increases your life span if your motivation is to help others. So, your instinct was right not to want to benefit for kindness.
Enjoy the Kindness Kickback
If you are in a position to be kind – do it! Those who are blessed have an obligation to do good. It doesn’t have to be giving money but can be service, a smile or even grace. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself during this time when the world is at unease. It’s important to find ways to reduce stress and pay attention to your health. Afterall, you can’t take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
So, find ways every day to be kind to yourself and others. Let’s make it contagious! Kindness not only benefits those who are receiving but those who are giving get healthy benefits of kindness. We could all use a little kindness kickback right now! Be kind- it’s what the doctor ordered.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn