Being kind and compassionate to others turns out to be good for our health, according to recent studies.
As humans, we all want to know the secret to good health. We know the basics: eat right, take vitamins, exercise, and get enough sleep.
What most people don’t realize, however, is there is another, often overlooked key to being healthy. It’s something simple we can do every day: treat others with kindness. Turns out, being kind and compassionate to others isn’t just socially acceptable, it’s also good for us.
Here are five ways being kind can boost your health:
1. Experience the “Helper’s High”
Endorphins are the feel-good hormones we experience after a good workout, but helping others can also release endorphins. According to Psychology Today, the positive energy that you feel from doing a good deed can act on your body in much the same way that exercise does, releasing endorphins that make you feel good naturally.
This rush of good feelings that people experience after doing good deeds is called a “helper’s high,” and when you experience it, chances are, you’ll want to do more good deeds to experience more feel-good emotions. So go ahead and help someone else, we guarantee, it will make you feel better, too.
2. Boost Self-Esteem
Want to feel more confident in your own life? Help someone else! Being kind to others, as well as generous with yourself and your time and what you have, is a tremendous way to improve your self-image.
Research shows that kindness can improve your self-esteem, and that includes being kind to others as well as yourself. So if you want to be a more confident, well-adjusted human being, think of ways you can be kind in your everyday life. It doesn’t take much; share a smile, hold the door for someone, volunteer, or give someone a compliment. Practice this for a while and enjoy a new, more confident you.
3. Reduce Stress and Anxiety
With so many day-to-day obligations, it seems like we’re always looking for the best, easiest way to de-stress. Kindness is an easy, cost-effective way to reduce stress. According to CBS News, “Lab-based studies have shown that giving to others can help people cope with stress and boost their positive emotions.”
So, next time you’re feeling a little stressed, step outside of yourself and do something nice for someone else.
4. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
When you help other people or are just generally more kind and compassionate, it helps you to look inward and be more grateful for the blessings in your life. Volunteering to help those in need is one of the best ways to experience this gratitude. Like the “helper’s high,” gratitude has positive effects on your body and on your brain.
Gratitude, whether it’s being thankful for what you have or thanking someone else for a good deed, activates the hypothalamus, which regulates bodily functions like hunger, body temperature, sleep, and metabolism. Besides the biological benefits, having gratitude for the things in your life helps you be happier and have a more positive disposition.
5. Improve Your Quality of Life
When you’re kind to others, you develop strong, positive relationships with friends, family, and anyone you interact with. According to PubMed, “The quality and quantity of individuals’ social relationships have been linked not only to mental health but also to both morbidity and mortality.” Health also points out that people who lack a strong network of family and friends are at a greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease.
Based on these findings, positive social relationships can help you live longer and help you enjoy your life while you’re here. So if you want to live a long, full life, make lots of friends and treat them with kindness.
Are you ready to add kindness to your daily health regimen? Go ahead and try some of these ideas and let us know how you feel!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Maile Proctor is a full-time blogger and content editor. She writes about health and fitness, lifestyle and family, money-saving tips, how-to articles and more. She earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, Maile enjoys hiking in San Diego and finding new, fun fitness activities.