Recent studies have shown the health benefits of both practicing and witnessing acts of kindness. The positive health benefits of showing compassion and concern are both physical and mental. Here are 7 ways kindness can help you live a happier, healthier life.
“There’s strong scientific evidence that demonstrates being kind is good for the body and mind,” said Jeremy Nielsen, RN, BSN, inpatient behavioral health manager at Dixie Regional Medical Center. “Studies have shown that even witnessing acts of kindness as well as performing acts of kindness have positive, healthy side-effects.”
Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, lowers blood pressure and contributes to overall heart health. “Witnessing an act of kindness – even on a TV show – produces oxytocin in the body that’s been proven to decrease blood pressure,” said Nielsen.
People who donate or give either money or goods are usually happier than those who don’t. The amount given doesn’t appear to be a factor in the amount of happiness generated.
“Being kind stimulates the body to produce serotonin,” Nielsen said. “Serotonin promotes calmness and a peaceful feeling that combats depression and anxiety. Serotonin also aids in healing physical wounds by decreasing pain and increasing endorphins. Showing kindness and compassion is good for you.”
Showing kindness as a volunteer is good not just for your health, but for your longevity. Studies have shown that people who volunteer for multiple organizations or spend a significant amount of time serving others tend to live longer and have a lower chance of dying early than those who don’t.
“Kind people have decreased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone,” said Nielsen. “People who develop a habit of kindness reduce their levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Kindness is contagious. The kinder we are, the more kind we want to be, because it feels good.”
As the manager of the inpatient behavioral health unit at Dixie Regional, Nielsen has the impact of kindness on patient care first-hand.
“When we as staff are supportive and talk and listen to patients in kindness, it’s far more beneficial to our patients and helps them get better faster,” said Nielsen. “That example helps patients reach out to each other in kindness. Kindness breaks down barriers and creates a safe place for our patients.”
Being kind promotes empathy and compassion and an interconnectedness with others. These feelings in turn inspire happiness and reduce negative emotions. Enjoy positive mental and physical health benefits by starting a life-long habit of being kind to others.