Random Acts of Kindness Week is upon us! Observed during the second full week of February, this week is dedicated to promoting the idea of committing one random act of kindness each day during the week. It’s certainly not time consuming or hard, and it can be as simple as smiling at a passerby, helping an elderly neighbor, or sharing a surprise hug and an “I love you” (for no reason!) with someone special.
Did you know that there are actually a few beneficial health side effects of kindness? Dr. David Hamilton, author of “I HEART ME: The Science of Self-Love” and “How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body”, offers a few of these side effects. Now get out there and make someone else’s day!
1) Kindness Really DOES Make You Happier
You know that “do good” feeling you get when you’ve done something nice for another? That’s your body telling you, “I feel good!”
“It is believed that the good feeling we get [when we do something kind] is due to elevated levels of the brain’s natural version of morphine, which we know as an endogenous opioid! This causes elevated levels of dopamine in the brain, so we get a natural high, often referred to as “Helper’s High”, states Dr. Hamilton.
2) Kindness Protects Your Heart
Ever wonder why you get the “warm fuzzies” when you’ve done something nice for someone else? This is called emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone oxytocin in the brain and throughout the body, which causes the release of nitric oxide in your blood vessels to expand them. Expanding your blood vessels helps to reduce blood pressure. Oxytocin is known as a “cardio-protective” hormone because it ultimately protects the heart!
3) Kindness Keeps You Young
New research around the chemical oxytocin (you know, the “warm fuzzies”) shows that it actually can “reduce free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system, thus slowing aging at its source”. These two things actually speed the process of aging inside the body and normally come from making unhealthy choices over time. “Incidentally these two culprits also play a major role in heart disease, so this is also another reason why kindness is good for the heart,” says Dr. Hamilton.
It seems pretty clear…be kind to one another and live well…because the two are very connected. Happy Random Acts of Kindness Week!