How being kind to others could benefit your health
We’re all basically au fait with the health benefits of eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and staying hydrated, but there’s one simple wellbeing booster that we often forget: being kind.
Performing simple acts of kindness can do everything from improve your mental health to relieve physical pain, according to a body of scientific research. What’s more, our kind deeds influence many more people than we anticipate. One Californian study showed being kind to one person often benefits dozens more, making ‘heal the world’ more than just a cliche.
Obviously, being kind generally stems from a sense of altruism rather than consideration for our own health, nor will it ever appear on your doctor’s prescription. But these findings will serve as a reminder that the kind decision is always the right one, however bad a day you’ve had. Here are just some of the health benefits of kindness:
Doing good deeds helps to lower anxiety
For those who suffers from anxiety in social situations, performing random acts of kindness which benefit others can help them reframe their attitude. A study, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, found anxiety sufferers who did altruistic deeds over a four week period – for instance, mowing a neighbour’s lawn or donating blood – found their condition improved. Afterwards, they were more likely to view social interactions in a more positive light compared to before the experiment.
Kindness can literally soothe pain
It’s not just your mental health that’s improved by kind-hearted behaviour – believing someone is acting benevolently towards you can also help you endure actual pain, says research from the University of Maryland. So if you imagine your gym class instructor is making you do that extra round of burpees to help you get fit, you’ll bear the burn better than if you assume she’s a sadist. Makes sense.
Saying ‘thank you’ can improve your relationship
Kindness begins at home. While making each other a cuppa can’t hurt, turns out the simple act of saying ‘thank you’ can seriously up the quality of your relationship with your loved one, according to University of Georgia research. It’s all to do with your partner feeling valued, and vice versa. With healthy relationships proving key to your mental wellbeing, it seems a little kindness can go a long way.
Being kind could save your career, too
Specifically, that all-important relationship with your boss. Apparently, if you sign off an email with a considerate note containing kind words, such as ‘Thanks so much! I am really grateful’, you will reap the benefits. Your boss will be more generous in their opinion of you and will regard you as more competent, compared to if you did not include such a message. Food for thought.