Why Kindness Is Good for Your Mental Health
We all live in a world full of stress. Anxiety and depression are on the rise, and many people now realize that everyone may deal with mental health problems, no matter how successful or famous they are. Bad news on the TV and heated political debates on social media don’t let us relax after a difficult day at work, and constant emotional tension may eventually take its toll.
Our society is more divided than ever so it can be too easy to forget about the importance of kindness. Kindness can have a tremendous impact on relationships. However, being nice can benefit not only your relationships but also your physical and mental health.
Expressing kindness in your words and actions allows you to add a little bit of positivity to the lives of others, and it can also make you feel better. Random kindness enables you to connect with others while also adding more value to your life so you can feel happy.
While most of us understand the emotional value of kindness, sometimes we may forget how powerful it can be. Kindness can help people with mental health problems. In fact, acts of kindness are often combined with therapy when treating depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and many other problems.
When it comes to our health, we may choose diets and activities that can help us live longer, cope with stress, tackle anxiety, and maintain healthy blood pressure. It turns out that kindness can help achieve all of these goals, and such effects are backed by research data.
Kindness and Mental Health
There are many mental health benefits of being kind. Researchers have studied the connection between kindness and mental health for many years, and research data shows that people who perform random acts of kindness feel happier than others. Moreover, the more acts of kindness they perform, the happier they feel.
Kindness boosts the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are often called hormones of happiness. These hormones are responsible for many positive emotions that we experience in our lives, and when levels of these hormones are low, people often face mental health problems.
Acts of kindness also trigger the release of oxytocin, which is responsible for an emotional connection between people and enables us to build trust. In addition, research data shows that people who practice kindness have 23% lower levels of cortisol, which means that they experience stress less often and can cope with it easier.
Acts of kindness are also one of the best ways to improve your self-esteem. Kindness allows you to see how helpful you can be and therefore feel better about yourself. However, if you have self-esteem issues, it’s important to be kind not only towards others but also yourself. Self-kindness is not an option but rather a necessity because, if you want to improve your self-esteem, you must learn how to stop self-deprecating.
Benefits of Kindness
1. Kindness helps cope with anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders. It can be more or less severe, but it always impacts a person’s life. You may cope with anxiety in different ways, including breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or prescription medications, but it turns out that you can also ease anxiety by simply being nice to others.
For instance, researchers linked social anxiety to low positive affect (PA). The term “positive affect” is used to describe positive moods and emotions. According to research, acts of kindness lead to a significant increase in PA that may last for several weeks.
2. It improves relationships
Kindness connects people and allows us to express our care and respect. Our relationships are very important for our mental health, and kindness allows you to get closer to other people, making your relationships more meaningful and compassionate.
Strong relationships not only bring positive emotions but also create a supportive environment, which is very important in the context of mental health. Quite often, people who struggle with symptoms of depression or anxiety isolate themselves from others, and isolation can only make the situation worse.
3. It reduces stress
Many of us are constantly looking for possible ways to reduce stress. Although dealing with overwhelming amounts of stress is always difficult, some methods may turn out to be easier than you think.
When we help others, we can take a break from stressors in our lives. In psychology, acts of kindness towards other people are called affiliative behavior, and research data shows that affiliative behavior can help reduce the impact of stress, making us more emotionally stable.
- H3: It’s good for your heart
No matter whether it’s kindness aimed at other people or kindness to animals, kindness always makes us feel better emotionally. However, one of the best things about kindness is that it’s not only heartwarming but also beneficial for the heart from a medical viewpoint.
If you have heart problems, you might benefit from random kindness because it boosts oxytocin levels. In turn, this hormone triggers the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide expands your blood vessels, therefore lowering blood pressure. The impact of oxytocin on blood pressure is a reason why doctors often call it a cardioprotective hormone.
5. Kindness can increase your lifespan
Another interesting fact about kindness is that it can increase your lifespan. Researchers found out that elderly people who support their spouses, friends, and relatives have a lower mortality rate than those who don’t perform acts of kindness regularly.
Another study thatinvolved a large group of older adults of different ethnicities, from different backgrounds, also showed that those who engage in acts of social support have lower mortality rates.
6. Kindness prevents diseases
A whole range of diseases, including diabetes, obesity, cancer, migraines, and chronic pain, are associated with inflammation. When we show kindness, an increased level of oxytocin helps reduce inflammation and therefore improves symptoms of many illnesses.
According to research, volunteeringis strongly associated with low levels of inflammation, so it can not only improve your mental health but also help you deal with physical illnesses.
7. It improves self-care
We’ve already mentioned that kindness can boost your self-esteem. When we perform acts of kindness, we can improve our self-worth and see more purpose in our lives. As a result, being nice to others can motivate you to be kind towards yourself and therefore take care of yourself.
Kindness and mental health are closely connected, and when you express kindness, you can help not only others but also yourself. Kindness offers numerous benefits for your physical and mental health, helping you cope with stress and balancing your hormones. Given that acts of kindness trigger multiple positive processes in our bodies, it’s no surprise that acts of kindness are often combined with therapy.
However, if you experience anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, or other mental health problems, you should not only help others but also be ready to receive help. A licensed therapist can help you figure out the causes of your emotional issues and learn how to deal with negative thoughts that lead to negative emotions.
Some people hesitate to seek professional help because traditional in-person therapy requires you to commute to a therapist’s office so it can be too time-consuming. However, online therapy platforms like Calmerry enable you to talk to licensed therapists remotely, no matter how tight your schedule is. Learn more about the benefits of talk therapy so that you can prepare for your first session.