A few months ago, my family found ourselves in a bit of a slump. While there have been several positives in the midst of this COVID season, the added stressors and monotony had started to take their toll.
We were bored. We were grumpy. We were in a bit of a funk.
And then one evening, my husband came home from getting take-out and he was grinning from ear to ear. He told me that the reason he couldn’t stop smiling was because while he was out getting our family’s meal, he had paid for the car behind him. It was something he had never done before but this small, simple act boosted his mood!
While paying for someone else’s food might be small in the grand scheme of things, it made an impact. My husband could not stop smiling – and there’s a reason for that!
Acts of kindness can actually affect our brian chemistry resulting in some not-so-small benefits:
- Physical – Being kind creates a feeling of emotional warmth which can stimulate the production of oxytocin. This is a chemical that helps to lower blood pressure, improving overall heart health. An act of kindness also produces endorphins, our brain’s natural-painkiller. Studies have also shown that people who are kind have lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and they age slower.
- Emotional – Kindness can produce serotonin which allows us to feel happy and can help to reduce symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that an act of kindness activates the pleasure centers in our brain creating what is known as a “helpers high.” People are often more energetic and have an increased sense of self-esteem after performing an act of kindness.
- Mental – Kindness serves as a positive form of distraction, taking our minds off of our current situation and how we are feeling by shifting our gaze to someone or something else. Sometimes this distraction can help us to gain perspective. And sometimes it can simply provide a momentary reprieve from whatever we are currently feeling.
So why not give it a try?! Do something for someone else, spread a little bit of kindness…and allow your own brain chemistry to be impacted!
Here are a couple of lists to spark some ideas:
Written by: Rebekah Jones