Some things never go out of style! I’ve been seeing and hearing so many people dealing with chronic stress and anxiety lately. It seems like a good time to repost this article about the health benefits of kindness and compassion. Enjoy!
Here’s a new wellness tool you might want to add to your health and wellness regimen: random acts of kindness. As people search for better and faster ways to improve their health and well-being, they often overlook easy, inexpensive and effective social wellness activities like volunteering and doing good deeds. Research shows that doing altruistic acts-like volunteering at a community center or donating blood-not only help improve mental health and well-being, but also help people live longer, happier, and healthier lives. What a wonderful addition to your personal wellness plan.
Surprisingly, research also shows that people who give kindness and compassion often receive more health benefits than people who receive acts of kindness. In the book Wellbeing, Tom Rath and Jim Harter explain how certain parts of the brain become more activated when we give money than when we receive money. Neuroscientists believe this reaction in the brain creates a sense of reward and emotional connection by causing the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and oxytocin. These brain chemicals affect our ability to feel pleasure and experience social bonding.
In addition to these mental wellness benefits, acts of kindness also improve physical wellness. For example, older volunteers have been found to live longer, more satisfying lives. It’s important, however, to make sure your acts of kindness support you in creating a balanced life instead becoming a source of stress. Health benefits start to fade if volunteers feel overwhelmed by their activities. Maintaining personal balance is important to sustaining optimal health.
Need some ideas about how to get started? Go to www.worldkindness.org or www.randomactsofkindness.org for some ideas.
In the meantime, here are a few easy wellness tips to help boost your health and social wellbeing by practicing kindness. Enjoy!
1) Drive someone who doesn’t have a car.
2) Buy a bag of groceries for someone who is on a fixed income.
3) Say hello to a stranger who looks unhappy.
4) Pay a toll for the car behind you.
5) Donate a dollar to an important cause.
6) Make someone laugh.
7) Donate supplies to a local daycare center.
8) Offer to babysit for a single parent.
9) Bring a healthy treat to the office for your co-workers.
10) Leave a room better than you found it (even if it isn’t your mess).
Wellness Resources: Books about Kindness and Social Wellness
Wellbeing, by Tom Rath and Jim Harter
The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness, by Lee Alan DugatKin
Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler, by Margery Cuyler
Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids, by David Messing
Original article © 2010 Donna L. Hamilton, MD
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A wellness thought leader, she champions a comprehensive approach to health by addressing mental, emotional, social, spiritual & physical well-being with a simple and potent message. Her book Wellness Your Way offers a practical strategy to assist readers in creating a happier, healthier life. For more information or to book Dr. Hamilton for speaking engagements visit www.ManifestExcellence.com or www.DonnaHamiltonMD.com
Latest posts by Donna Hamilton, MD, MS, FAAP (see all)
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