Have you ever carried out a random act of kindness? Or been on the receiving end of one? There are some amazing stories I have heard of incredible acts of generosity. A friend recently told me of a time when he was making the huge and difficult choice to quit his job and pursue something completely different. He was unsure and doubting his decisions, especially as he really needed a significant sum of money that he didn’t have, when someone in his church approached him and gave him the exact amount of money that he had been needing without even knowing that he needed it. How amazing! That man had no idea about all the worry and stress that he had been feeling, or the relief that that money would have caused.
Sometimes we just don’t know what people are going through or the significance that an act of kindness can have at that particular moment. I am sure we can all think of those times where just a smile, or a thoughtful message, can completely transform your terrible day!
Random acts of kindness don’t have to be big! I once anonymously covered my friend’s car in post it notes of thing’s I loved about her! It was so fun watching her post on social media to try and work out who had done it, without letting her know it was me. It was something so simple, but it had totally made her day. And the amazing thing about doing random acts of kindness is that not only do they benefit the person on the receiving end, but they are great for our own mental health and wellbeing! It’s a win-win! Knowing how happy I had made my friend made me feel great too!
Here are just a few reasons why getting involved in random acts of kindness is actually a great way to look after ourselves, as well as the others we impact!
1. It makes us feel good
Acts of kindness have been proven to increase levels of serotonin, which is a hormone that makes us feel happy! They increase our positive affect, and therefore reduce levels of anxiety and stress. Doing kind things for other people also increases self-esteem and builds a sense of purpose, especially when you can see the positive difference that you have made to another person!
2. It reduces isolation
Again, being involved in an act of kindness and seeing how that makes someone feel can help us to recognise the way that our lives impact the lives of those around us. It makes us feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves and increases a sense of belonging and value in the wider community. Being kind is also a great foundation for making connections, developing relationships and building a social network, therefore reducing a sense of loneliness and isolation.
3. It keeps things in perspective
Helping people who are in need can sometimes be a challenging reminder of how lucky we are in so many areas of our lives. Acts of kindness are a great way to change our perspective on our own stresses and difficulties, and focus on the positives in our own lives. If nothing else, it keeps us busy and distracted for a while from all the things we would otherwise be worrying or stressed about, and focused on someone else instead of ourselves.
4. It keeps your body healthy
Acts of kindness have been shown to increase levels of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces blood pressure and therefore protects your heart from damage. Oxytocin also reduces inflammation in the body, which is associated with diabetes, cancer, migraines and obesity. So those acts of kindness may actually be reducing the risk of a lot of health problems and keeping you alive and healthy. The positive emotions produced by acts of kindness are also shown to improve your immune system, and studies have shown that older people who support others often live longer than those who don’t.
As if you needed any more encouragement or reason to start on those little acts of kindness, we are coming up to Random Act of Kindness day, on Monday 17th February! Give it a go. Remember that an act of kindness doesn’t have to cost you anything, and it is beneficial to everyone involved! Here are 50 ideas from the Mental Health Organisation of little acts of kindness that can make a huge difference, to get you started!
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