Diet and exercise. Diet and exercise. Diet and exercise. That’s all you need to be healthy… Right?…Wrong.
We know that diet and exercise are important parts of health, this is indisputable. But, is that the entire recipe for wellness? Of course not! Diet and exercise are small pieces of a larger puzzle. Being truly healthy is not entirely dependent on diet and exercise. The recipe for a healthy life is much more robust including spiritual, mental, emotional and relational factors as well. Afterall, great health is about balance.
When it comes to boosting your mental and emotional health, there is one simple but impactful method: practicing kindness. Yes, kindness! We are talking about waving at your neighbor, opening the door for a stranger, smiling at your coworkers, complimenting your friend and so on. And, we are talking about focusing on kindness on a daily basis. Kindness might seem completely different from diet and exercise, but the truth is, it’s a practice and something that you have to develop just like a healthy diet and workout routine. Just like a muscle, the more you work it, the stronger and more useful it will become. Not convinced yet? Here are three reasons to be kind each and every day.
Kindness Releases the Happy Hormones
Putting a smile on another person’s face typically has an outcome of bringing a smile to your face. Why is this? The pleasure centers in your brain light up! This reaction is the release of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter in your brain responsible for making you feel happy and feel pleasure!
Giving someone a compliment or helping another person carry something heavy actually causes a hormonal reaction that makes you feel great! Now imagine the amazing benefits of making kindness a regular part of your life.
Kindness Can Improve Heart Health
Being kind and giving to others are good for your heart health. This idea might seem far fetched, but in reality, it’s just a little bit of chemistry. The kindness/heart health relationship starts with a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone has been deemed the “love hormone,” because it releases when social connections are made. According to Dr. David Hamilton, Ph.D., “oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure).”
Studies show that the oxytocin released due to positive social interactions can have tremendous effects on maintaining health and strengthening our relationships with others. Acts of kindness can help to keep you not only happy, but healthy as well.
Kindness Helps Reduce Stress
Life is busy. We all know and understand this very well. But, what we may not notice is the daily stress we encounter. And, when we don’t address this stress, it can build and build, turning us into some sort of a ticking bomb. This doesn’t have to be the case, though. Kindness can help to ease the tension.
Kindness forces us to step outside of ourselves and take a step back. In other words, it shifts our perspective allowing us to remove ourselves from a particular situation. And, when we do so, we can logically evaluate it and proceed with it rather than being emerged in it, stuck and stressed.
Engaging in behavior that builds relationships with others allows us to create healthier coping methods. Building relationships also means building support groups and community. Kindness lays the foundation for a life where stress can be managed and overcome.
Studies have shown that as children, we are naturally wired to be kind and to learn empathy. Overtime, we grow up, become busy, and the normal stressors of life chip away at our ability for kindness. This does not mean that all is lost! Afterall, kindness is a muscle that can be worked and strengthened. Kindness is a simple practice, therefore, adding it into our daily actions and conversations can be very simple too!
Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone daily with one or more (or all) of these actions:
- Start your day by thinking about three things you are grateful for.
- Text or call an old friend or family member.
- Smile at the people you see on the street.
- Give someone a hug.
- Buy someone their morning coffee or drink.
- Give a shout out to someone you appreciate on social media (make sure to tag us!).
At the end of each day, remind yourself by meditating on or writing down the act of kindness you engaged in that day, and how the person on the receiving end reacted. Acknowledge the joy and happiness in your life. This focus on wellness spanning into mental and emotional health, is what we call living the #NewEarthLife. Everyday that you grow in kindness, the greater the good in your life will shine. Do not sell your heart or mind short, engage in our natural human inclination to be KIND.
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