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The Importance of Acts of Kindness for Mental Health


<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Every single one of us has the power to make someone else&rsquo;s day better just by doing one single thing: an act of kindness.&nbsp; While many of us see it as &ldquo;paying it forward&rdquo; in the coffee line-up, or perhaps helping a stranger load groceries into their car, there are many versions and examples of acts of kindness available every single day.&nbsp; And studies show that all of them do great things for our mental health -- on both sides.</p> <p><strong>How do acts of kindness connect with our mental health?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Many of us have done an act of kindness at some point in our lives.&nbsp; Perhaps it was shoveling out a neighbor&rsquo;s car or buying a cup of coffee for a friend having a bad day.&nbsp; You know that warm fuzzy feeling that it gives you to do that?&nbsp; That is great for your mental health.&nbsp; In fact, there is a lot of evidence pointing to the idea that acts of kindness are more beneficial for the giver, than the recipient!</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Whether you are giving it, or receiving it, having genuine, unexpected kindness in your life with no ulterior motive helps you relax, makes your body release &ldquo;happy hormones&rdquo;, and can even reduce overall anxiety and stress levels.&nbsp; It does not matter if it happens once or 10 times, the effect is as impressive either way.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The recipient </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Most of us focus acts of kindness on the recipient.&nbsp; We focus on how they&rsquo;re having a tough time, or struggling with a difficult decision.&nbsp; Whether it&rsquo;s a stranger on the street or a coworker, we want to help make them smile a bit more, even if it&#39;s just for a moment.&nbsp; By presenting them with unexpected kindness with no expectation of it being returned, it can make their day a bit brighter and easier, boosting them up as the take in this random act of kindness, no matter how small it may seem.&nbsp; Additionally, they will cherish that memory.&nbsp; Even if they never knew who created that act of kindness, anyone who is ever received one will always remember it fondly, especially in dark times when they need a boost.</p> <p><strong>The giver</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The person who plans and executes these acts of kindness (whether anonymously or just for someone special who needs it), also experiences joy, and a boost in mood.&nbsp; It can even reduce anxiety and stress when they see that their act made a difference to the person&rsquo;s day.&nbsp; It helps boost our own self-worth when we see just what we can for someone else in a time of need, and more.&nbsp; There is so much to love about the idea of deliberately going out and designing an act of kindness even when you feel down, yourself!</p> <p><strong>Examples of acts of kindness</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; There are no end of options that you can consider, and we&rsquo;ve named few above, but here are some great starter options:</p> <ul> <li>Smiling at someone who makes eye contact with you.</li> <li>Allowing someone to board the elevator before you / Holding the door for someone.</li> <li>Complimenting a coworker on something they did well.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; There are many, many ways that you can explore acts of kindness, and as you get used to it, you can even personalize them to doing the ones that bring you the most joy.&nbsp; They may be tiny, but they make a huge difference on both ends!</p>