How to Boost Your Mental Health Through Acts of Kindness

"How many times have you complained about something but done nothing to fix it? Or noticed something and thought, someone should do something about that? We all have those thoughts sometimes. And it’s okay because none of us can solve every problem we encounter. But guess what…you’re someone. And when you set your mind to it, you absolutely can do something that matters. “ Laurie Ann Thompson

5 Health Benefits of Being Kind

Treating people with love and respect goes a long way. But, what if I told you there is actual science-backed research that shows there is a health benefit behind our selfless acts of kindness?

That’s correct, being kind is just as good for you as it is for the people you are helping. So, don’t shy away from those volunteer opportunities you see. If someone looks down and out, smile and offer your assistance. Not all acts of kindness need to be so selfless. The residual effects of helping another are a positive benefit you shouldn’t feel guilty about.

Every person has their own reasons for being kind or doing good things for others. Some of us are just born that way, and helping people comes naturally. For others, we may start to see the suffering in the world and feel a calling to make a change in someone’s life. No matter what reasons you for have choosing to be kind to others, these 5 health benefits are sure to boost your day while you are at it!

1. Naturally boost your serotonin

Serotonin is the chemical in our brains that gives us the feeling of satisfaction and well-being. You know that joyful feeling you get when you find out you landed a new job or received a promotion? Maybe the feeling you get when you train hard and win a race? Yep, that’s natural serotonin rushing to your brain. Serotonin is also the manufactured chemical present in most anti-depressants, as well as a choice few illegal narcotics. Skip the drugs, and just be nice to people. It can have the same effects!

2. Naturally boost your oxytocin

Being kind can boost our oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is produced in our brains, and when present it creates nitric oxide in our blood vessels. According to Dr. David Hamilton, this process of boosting your oxytocin can assist the heart through the lowering of blood-pressure.

3. Naturally slow down the aging process

Getting out and volunteering has been shown to slow down the aging process in people between the ages of 57-85, according to a study published in the Gerontologist. So, getting out to the local food bank, participating in a neighborhood clean-up, or any kind act of volunteering is likely to help get you moving, and slow down the aging process.

4. Naturally reduce stress

We spend most of our time worrying about ourselves and the immediate environments around us. We all have financial issues, family issues, work related issues, but if we take a break from our busy lives, and focus on helping others, it puts a pause to our everyday stress. Helping others gives us a sense of purpose, gratitude, and appreciation, that we likely are not focusing on when we are on our daily grind.

5. Naturally reduce depression

The risk for depression is high for many these days. One of the leading causes of depression is isolation and fear of social interactions. Through acts of kindness and volunteer work, you can grow your network of like-minded people, and boost your ability to build a support system. These things all contribute to your mental health while simultaneously working to help the lives of others.

We all need a break from our daily routines, and it is healthy to find ways to boost our happiness and mental wellness. The old saying goes “you can’t take care of someone else until you learn to care of yourself”. Why not save some time and try to do both? If you are feeling a calling or sense of duty to get out there and help others, just know that you are helping yourself in the process!