What is free, never-ending, a gift, and key to positive mental health?
The answer to the above question is kindness.
Since 1998, the world recognizes November 13th as World Kindness Day. The United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and the U.A.E rally behind this international holiday and use it as a reminder of the importance of kindness in all aspects of life. Countless articles educate and inspire readers to utilize kindness when interacting with others and the world in general. However, while you’re offering kindness to others, remember to give kindness to yourself as well.
The Psychological & Biological Effects of Kindness
PIH Health made a powerful argument in the case of kindness when they said the following: “A life not lived for others is not a life,” observed Mother Teresa. There may be truth to this, according to Mental Health America. Psychologically, acts of kindness make us feel grateful, empathetic, and compassionate. These are positive feelings that give us a sense of belonging and community. Biologically, kindness releases chemicals like the “love hormone,” oxytocin, which helps us form social bonds based on trust.
Dartmouth joins PIH Health on the Kindness Bandwagon, praising the health benefits of kindness and reporting that kindness can decrease the following:
- Pain- “Engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins, the brain’s natural painkiller!”
- Stress- “Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population!”
- Anxiety- A University of British Columbia study observed “a group of highly anxious individuals (that) performed at least six acts of kindness a week. After one month, there was a significant increase in positive moods, relationship satisfaction, and a decrease in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals.”
- Depression- “Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced, and well-being and good fortune are increased.”
- Blood Pressure- “According to Dr. David R. Hamilton, acts of kindness create emotional warmth, which releases a hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and, therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.”
Remember: Be Kind to Yourself
Many people are kind to others. They open doors. They smile. They wave. They listen. They empathize. But not as many people are consistently kind to themselves. Too many people treat themselves with too little kindness and too much ridicule. This is a world of compara-ritus where people are inclined to compare their looks, job, family, home, and life to others.
Do not accept negative words, energy, and thoughts, and this includes when those words, energy, and thoughts are coming from yourself. Even something as seemingly innocent as the world’s obsession with Instagram and Instagram-like filters contributes to the lack of self-kindness. As Dr. Peace Amadi, an associate psychology professor at Hope International University in California, says, “There’s a well-established link between social-media usage and psychological concerns.” Amadi adds that “Instagram has been tied to anxiety and depressive symptoms, but also concerns such as anxiety related to physical appearance, increased body dissatisfaction, and lower self-esteem.”
“Self-help,” according to MentalHealth.org, “is about looking after yourself and your mental health. The relationship you have with yourself is crucial to your own wellbeing and also to creating healthy and happy relationships with others. Being kind to yourself regularly is one of the best things you can do for yourself.”
You are beautiful without a filter.
You are worthy, regardless of your status.
You have enormous potential for good, regardless of your past.
You deserve to be loved– by yourself and by others.
Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach