We've all experienced that warm, fuzzy feeling when you do something kind for someone else. Whether you serve meals at a local shelter, volunteer at your child's school, or donate money to an important cause, it's inevitable that you'll walk away feeling like you've made a difference.
But, did you know that "warm fuzzy feeling" could have some real benefits for your physical and mental health?
Kindness adds years to your life
According to the Cleveland Clinic External Site, studies have shown those who do acts of kindness can have lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, and a longer life. People who are kind also have 23 percent less cortisol External Site, which is a stress hormone External Site that can cause acne, weight gain, muscle weakness, and headaches.
And, choosing to be kind or performing random acts of kindness can add greater perspective to your life by showing you how one small gesture can positively impact a person's whole day.
It enhances your mental health
Your brain knows when you're giving to others. There is evidence that acts of kindness release hormones in your brain such as serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine, which make you feel good. This can improve self-esteem and reduce feelings of depression.
Kick up the kindness
Need a little inspiration? Consider the following ideas the next time you're ready to brighten someone's day.
- Smile. It's so simple, but this small gesture can go a long way if someone's having a rough day.
- Hold the door. In our fast-paced world, this common courtesy is fading fast. Do your part to bring it back.
- Give a compliment. Try something beyond the superficial: "You make everyone feel so welcome," "I love the way you solve problems," or "Your attitude inspires me."
- Surprise someone. Buy a coffee for a friend or stranger. Make your family's favorite meal for dinner. Return someone's cart at the grocery store. The element of surprise makes your gesture extra special.
So, the next time you have a chance to be kind to someone, do it! We all know it's the right thing to do, and when you consider the health benefits, it's an opportunity you can't afford to pass up.