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Health Chatter: Why kindness matters for your mental health

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

It has been proven that living a kinder life is more likely to lead to a happier life. Doing something kind for someone else is linked to the release of hormones such as serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins which can promote feelings of relaxation, love, and even reduce pain. So, practicing an act of kindness could not only makes someone else’s day, but it could make you feel great too.

Being kind to others

Seeking out ways to show kindness to others has additional benefits for your mental health. It can:

  • Help reduce loneliness and feelings of isolation as you connect with other people

  • Give you a sense of purpose and belonging

  • Help you stay more active through the pursuit of being kind

  • Help keep things in perspective as you turn your attention outwards

Acts of kindness also help promote happiness in others and can encourage them to show more kindness too.

Oxytocin can be released when we show kindness to others. It is often called the ‘love hormone’ as it is released when we feel a bond with another person.

Being kind to yourself

Being kind to ourselves can sometimes be harder than being kind to others. That’s why we’re sharing some actions you can take to start being kinder and taking care of yourself. Self care can come in many forms. Although a bubble bath might make you feel good for a moment, it’s important to make sure you’re being kind to yourself inside and out.

  • Think about yourself as if you were thinking about a close friend – do you speak to yourself with the same compassion?

  • Watch out for negative thoughts about yourself and kindly ask your mind to try rephrasing those thoughts in a kind way. Turn “you’re stupid” into, “it’s ok to make mistakes, that’s how we learn”. Remember that thoughts are just thoughts and they aren’t always true.

  • Spend some time noticing the things you like about yourself and being grateful for those traits.

  • Take care of your physical health and try to get enough sleep to help improve your mental resilience.

If you are not used to being kind to yourself it may feel difficult and unnatural at first. Practicing these actions regularly, however, will help being kind to yourself come more naturally. Showing ourselves kindness sets a good example for others and demonstrates what self-compassion looks like in practice. This can help the people around you be more kind to themselves and so kindness spreads from person to person.

Connecting with kindness

Increase kindness in your world by taking steps to:

  • Reflect on acts of kindness you’ve experienced and how it felt to receive kindness.

  • Think about times you’ve been kind to others and how that made you feel.

  • Practice kindness to yourself regularly.

  • Think about what you can do and how you can show kindness to others (but don’t stretch yourself too thin).

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." - Aesop


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