- Posted by Jon Harju
- On February 25, 2020
While many of us at a young age learn the golden rule of showing kindness to others, bullying continues to be a major problem in our schools, workplaces, and homes. Science shows that we’re biologically wired to be compassionate. However, it’s often the outside influences and the stress of our day-to-day lives that lead us to lose sight of this inherent ability.
February 26th, 2020, marks Pink Shirt Day when people unite nationwide in wearing pink shirts to school or work to symbolize anti-bullying. This inspirational movement began in 2007, when Travis Price, a grade 12 student in Nova Scotia, organized a high school protest with friends, in wearing pink t.shirts to show their support for a grade 9 boy being bullied for wearing pink. That protest sent a strong message and started much-needed conversations around the importance of showing kindness to others.
Kindness and empathy help us relate to other people and develop positive relationships with friends, family, and those we encounter in our daily lives. Have you ever noticed that when you do something nice for someone else, it makes you feel better too? This has to do with the pleasure centers in your brain and can bring about a sense of lasting well-being.
3 ways to improve your mental well-being through kindness
- Boost serotonin
Doing kind things for others boosts your serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Like exercise releases endorphins, your serotonin boost can give you a dose of “helper’s high.” So, embrace the volunteer opportunities, help someone in need, or simply open a door for someone – it may be just the positive lift you need.
- Ease anxiety
Positive affect (PA) is a person’s experience of positive moods such as joy, interest, and alertness. A study on happiness from the University of British Columbia (UBC) found that social anxiety is associated with low positive affect, a factor that can significantly affect psychological well-being and adaptive functioning. UBC researchers found that participants who engaged in kind acts displayed significant increases in PA. So, the next time you’re feeling a little anxious, look for opportunities to help others – even a small gesture can make a big difference.
- Reduce stress
Helping others provides a break from focusing on the stressors in your own life. According to a study, affiliative behavior –any behaviour that builds your relationships with others– may be an essential component of coping with stress. Any action intended to help others (prosocial behaviour) might be an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on your emotional functioning
Above all else, be kind
With the bounty of health benefits, it’s clear we can invest in our well-being by being kind in our personal and professional lives. There are many ways and opportunities to practice kindness in your day. Share a smile, make a donation, volunteer, or help others with a simple gesture. Perhaps kindness is a value that could be the secret sauce for adding more satisfaction, happiness, and health into your life.
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