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How Being Kind Can Improve Your Health

by Jessica Hegg June 05, 2023 0 Comments

Senior woman smiling

It’s always a good idea to treat others with care and consideration, but did you know it can actually improve your health? It’s true! Beyond allowing us to connect more deeply with the people around us, showing kindness can actually boost our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. See how to incorporate kind acts into your everyday life to get the most out of life.

Understanding Kindness

What exactly do we mean when we say kindness? For the purpose of this article, we’ll be talking about words, actions, or feelings that benefit those other than yourself. This could be as simple as giving up your seat on the bus, taking care of a sick loved one, or just making an effort to be polite to those you meet.

There’s no limit to the ways you can be kind to others. Best of all, it doesn’t need to take much time or cost any money to brighten someone’s day.

Physical Health Benefits of Kindness

While it’s easy to understand how a good deed can improve your outlook on life, what most people don’t know is that it can improve your physical health too. There is even evidence that shows kindness has positive outcomes for common diseases like diabetes and cancer. Learn more below.

  • Boosting Heart Health

    It turns out “heart-warming” isn’t just a turn of phrase. In fact, showing kindness to other people can have a real impact on your cardiovascular health. The reason has to do with a hormone called oxytocin, which offers a range of beneficial effects to the body. One of these effects is the dilation of the blood vessels. This allows your blood to flow more freely and lowers overall blood pressure levels.

    Track your heart health with one of heart monitors.

    More Ways to Boost Heart Health

  • Fighting Illness

    According to a 2013 study, staying active, especially when around people, is shown to help adults between 57 and 85 lower levels of inflammation. The study found that doing volunteer work that impacted the lives of other people had the strongest impact on inflammation levels. This can have a range o positive effects on the body, helping you fight chronic pain, migraines, diabetes, and cancer. While simple acts of kindness might not be a one-stop cure, it might just give your body the push it needs to recover.

  • Increase Your Lifespan

    There is no end to the different factors that affect longevity. However, evidence shows that fostering warm and loving relationships with those around you lowers the risk of heart disease and boosts overall health. It’s important to expand your network of family and friends but also strengthen the duties you already have. We can’t think of a better way to do this than showing kindness and compassion whenever possible.

  • Diabetes Management

    We mentioned above that volunteer work can boost levels of oxytocin in the body, helping you recover from a range of different diseases. Well, it turns out that kindness can actually fight diabetes in more ways than one, though in this case, it’s a different kind of kindness.

    Self-compassion, or the act of treating one’s self with kindness, has been shown to have a positive effect on those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Over the course of eight weeks, the study tracked the depression scores and distress of a test group as well as their blood sugar. The results showed that self-compassion lowered stress hormones and soothed the nervous system, which had a positive effect on blood sugar stabilization.

  • Support During Cancer Recovery

    While being kind to others might not affect your cancer recovery directly, one study has shown that it can help in other ways. Patients with early-stage breast cancer reported feeling more social support after performing random acts of kindness to those around them. They felt more connected and had a stronger social circle.

    The idea is that protecting ourselves from negative stress is essential during the recovery process. This can affect diseases of all kinds, big and small.

How Kindness Can Improve Psychological Health

It turns out that kindness is as important to psychological health as it is to our physical health. It might not sound so surprising, but recent evidence has shown that the ways positive feelings affect our minds is more complex than we thought. Take a look at some examples below.

  • Gives an Extra-Dose of Feel-Good Hormones

    They say it feels better to give than to receive, though this may be more than an old adage. Kindness has been shown to boost levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of well-being. In fact, acts of kindness have a similar effect on the body as exercise. The concept is sometimes referred to as “helper’s high.”

  • Eases Social Anxiety

    We all suffer from anxiety every now and then. Most of us have our own coping mechanisms to help ease these difficult feelings, whether that’s exercise, medication, or regular medication. However, there may be one other solution to add to your arsenal.

    According to one study, kind acts can have a significant impact on those suffering from social anxiety. The study measured positive affect, or PA, which describes a person’s experience of positive moods like interest, joy, and alertness. The results showed that those who performed kind acts showed increased levels of PA over the span of a month.

    So if you’re having a hard time connecting to others, the answer could be finding more ways to show kindness.

  • Reduced Stress

    One of the main hormones that affect feelings of stress is cortisol. This hormone is released in the body throughout the day, usually during times that require our full attention. Loud and noisy environments, difficult tasks, or painful emotions all increase cortisol levels, causing us to feel stressed.

    However, building your relationships with others can be one way to manage cortisol levels. By engaging in positive social behavior by helping others, you can lower cortisol and reduce your overall feelings of stress.

    Find other was to lower cortisol here.

  • Calming

    As mentioned above, performing kind acts produces serotonin in the body. This has a wide range of effects, including regulating body temperature, promoting good sleep, and instilling a feeling of peace and calmness. This can even soothe depression and anxiety or even help the body ease pain by releasing endorphins.

How to Prioritize Kindness

There’s no end to the different ways you can incorporate a bit more kindness into your day-to-day life. Ultimately, the best solution is one that is tailored to your personal strengths. However, you can also follow these guidelines to get a good idea of where to start.

  • Play to Tour Strengths

    While volunteering at a soup kitchen can be a great idea for people who love to be surrounded by smiling faces, others may prefer a one-on-one interaction. Since there are so many different ways to connect with others, it makes sense to stay in your comfort zone. If you have any skill with baking, making a batch of cookies for your neighbor could be a nice gesture. If you’re good with kids, offer to babysit.

  • Stay Focused on Their Needs

    When looking for kind acts to do for others, it can be easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal. It’s important to remember that we’re doing it for their benefit, not for our own. That means staying focused on their feelings and making choices that will actually be helpful. Giving unwanted gifts, striking up conversations with those who would rather be alone, and other such gestures will ultimately do more harm than good.

    One of the best ways to show kindness is to remember the wants and needs others have expressed to you. For example, if someone close to you has mentioned feeling lonely, it could be a perfect chance to give them a call.

  • Keep it Simple

    Often, the most appreciated acts of kindness are also the most simple. You don’t need to write a long letter to make an emotional impact. Instead, a short compliment or cheerful hello can be even better. In general, the better you know a person, the more elaborate your kind gesture can be

  • Stay Within Your Means

    The other reason why it's a good idea to keep acts of kindness more simple is they take less time, effort, and money. Keep in mind that a kind gesture doesn’t have to cost you anything other than a few minutes. If you find yourself worrying about the financial side of it, it could be better to find another solution.

    The same applies to the time and effort you’re putting in. When caring for other people, always make sure to leave enough space for your own needs. Putting other people first is okay in the short term, but over time it will ultimately leave you feeling drained.

    Caregiver burnout can be a real challenge for those giving long-term care to a loved one. Learn more about it here.

Find Ways to Be Kinder in Your Everyday Life

As you can see, there is no shortage of ways to show kindness to others and plenty of reasons to get started right away. You'll start seeing the benefits immediately, and over time you’ll begin to cultivate an instinct for kind acts. As always, it's best to start small and simple. Soon you’ll be surprised at what an impact you can make in others’ lives as well as your own.

Jessica Hegg
Jessica Hegg

Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at ViveHealth.com. With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.



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