very now and then, we bump into the irony of life. One of such phenomena is the satisfaction we receive from redirecting our focus to the needs of others. Sometimes, all it takes for a gloomy mood to depart is being kind to others — therein lies an unexplainable form of joy. Perhaps, it’s the spark in the eyes of a child whose belly received an unfamiliar but pleasant meal, or the tears in the eyes of a man whom you sheltered.
Whatever the case, a quick glance at the chaotic happenings in the world would further convince you of how much kindness can improve your mental health and the welfare of others. It was not until I started stepping out of myself that I found a different type of rest. I had struggled with depression for years, and it seemed like a necessary evil to live with until a friend walked up to me and suggested I join her non-profit girl child movement. You can imagine the look on my face; “are you kidding me? Can’t you see I’m down? And if there’s anyone who needs saving, it’s me. I’ll pass!”
In retrospect, thank goodness she convinced me and I yielded. When I got home that night, I lay in bed physically exhausted, but so light like a heavy burden had been lifted off me. It seemed I had just found a life secret—of course, I did. The scientific way to explain this phenomenon is the reward system. Whenever we practice kindness, our brain releases hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, also known as the Happiness Hormones. Although kindness benefits us, the motive should also be in consideration of the welfare of others, with our personal benefits as a bonus.
Check out 5 ways kindness can improve your mental health…
#1. It serves as a mood booster
As previously stated, being kind to others sends a signal to the brain which consequently releases the feel-good hormones. It promotes clarity of the mind and relieves stress. Let’s try something, pick up your phone, call a friend or family member, especially one going through trouble. Then, encourage them and help in any way you can. Chances are, your troubles might not go away, but you would notice an unusual surge of happiness.
#2. It encourages gratefulness
Sometimes, we wallow in our own predicament and forget that some individuals are unrelentingly wishing they had your life. One day I was caught up in a web of ingratitude and was so mad at everything and everyone. While cleaning up the house, I stumbled upon a list that my little cousin had tucked under a couch. It read; “Dear God, please give me candy and a new pair of shoes.” There I was, fussing about so much, and this was all the little girl needed to be happy. Guess what? I checked those off her list, and ironically, I became grateful and happier than I previously was.
#3. Gives a different perception
One of the practical ways kindness can affect your mental health is a change in perception. Oftentimes, difficulties tend to distort the way we see things and magnify our struggles. When we show generosity and kindness towards the less privileged or someone in need, slowly but surely, it helps us see life beyond ourselves. That is to say, we view life from a different spectrum — through the lens of others.
#4. Kindness combats loneliness
Volunteering to help others has been found to prevent loneliness in individuals. When we go out of our way to show kindness, it has a ripple effect. It improves relationships, strengthens bonds, and directly combats the need for isolation. Although people feel lonely for varying reasons, it’s been discovered that significant cases of loneliness have been attributed to a lack of purpose. The more you live out your purpose, the less likely you are to feel lonely.
#5. Gives a positive self-image
Rebecca struggled with low self-esteem almost all her life. She didn’t believe she was worthy or good for anything. Not until she decided to actively practice an act of kindness daily did she begin to feel a sense of worth. She would lay on her bed and say to herself: “I’m not useless after all, look at the smile I put on that woman’s face! I’m actually good for lots of things.”
Featured image: Samson Katt | Pexels
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