Practicing kindness may seem like it should be a selfless thing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the positive side effects.
Here are 6 ways how kindness can reduce your stress.
1. Social Interaction
One of the biggest weapons against stress is positive social interaction. Most acts of kindness require you to leave your own head and connect with at least one other person in a positive way. Now, if you happen to be someone who gets stressed out by interacting with people, turn your attention to pets because interaction with pets and kindness to animals is also stress reducing.
2. Spreading Joy
Pay it forward isn’t just an action, it’s a reaction. When people are kind to you, you immediately feel compelled to be kinder back and to the other people around you. That grows exponentially and leads to a world filled with more joy, kindness and a lot less stress. We’ll admit it – this is a bit of a utopian idea but think of it on a smaller scale, say, your house or your office, and we think you’ll see that kindness is catchy and that makes the world (or your own world) a de-stressed space.
3. Happier Heart & More
According to stress expert, Lauren Miller, practicing daily acts of kindness (and the gratitude that comes with it) can deliver physiological benefits including a stronger immune system, more energy, lower heart rate and improved brainpower. And, if good health in itself isn’t enough to reduce your stress, apparently practicing kindness will also result in balanced cortisol levels to better manage your stress. Be nice – doctor’s orders.
4. Slowing Down
Being kind or doing a random act of kindness doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it does require that you take a moment. In that moment, you slow down. When you slow down and breathe, you are helping to reduce stress. It may just be for the few seconds it takes to dig a few coins out of your purse or to hold the door, but those seconds add up; the kinder you are, the less stressed you’ll feel.
The practice of daily gratitude has been found to reduce stress but for some people, that practice feels intangible. Luckily, performing random acts of kindness is an exercise in gratitude! When you are giving or helping others, you are, in effect, showing your gratitude for the position you are in that allows you to do these things. It’s easy to be grateful when you can afford to put an extra quarter in an about-to-expire parking meter or take two minutes to help someone with their heavy grocery bags.
There’s something that happens when you perform a random act of kindness – you smile. It’s involuntary. It just happens. You’re smiling because you feel good. Some people even experience a swelling of positive emotions that leaves them verklempt or with tears of joy. All of that happiness is a stress antidote and helps to put the stressful things in your life into perspective.
Stress is a major health concern for a lot of people, so it’s nice to know that getting it back in check can be as simple as being a little more kind.
That’s some pretty easy medicine to swallow.