The past couple of years with the COVID-19 Pandemic has held tough times for many. Now, more than ever, it is so important to spread kindness to friends, family, and even strangers. The power of kindness should not be underestimated - not only does it feel good to be on the receiving end, but learning and practicing kindness can actually be beneficial to your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, "There's a science behind that phenomenon called 'loving kindness.' And research shows that learning and practicing loving kindness can profoundly affect your attitude, outlook and even your health. Better yet, you can rewire your brain to be more present and kinder to others, giving your mood a daily boost."
So - How does it work and what can you do? It's all about dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin! Dopamine is a feel-good chemical. Serotonin is the chemical that helps regulate mood. Oxytocin helps modulate social bonds and emotion. All of these chemicals are/can be released in the brain as a response to an act of kindness. Why? Because helping others feels good!
Ideas to spread kindness
1. Acts of Kindness. There are many little things you can do as an act of kindness. For example, bringing food to a family in need, donating winter coats to the homeless, or even something as small as paying for someone's order behind you in the drive thru line. These are some low budget options for spreading a little kindness to those around you. If you're strapped for cash or on a tight budget, you can always help by volunteering at your local soup kitchen or in other community events to benefit those in need. Doing what you can is always appreciated. It can even be something as simple as going out of your way to pay a sincere compliment to a small business owner or a complete stranger. 2. Practice Gratitude. Feeling grateful for the things in your life can result in an improvement in sleep, confidence, and overall feelings of happiness/well-being. Keeping a daily gratitude journal can be a great way to practice gratitude in your own life. To do this, simply make a list of 3 things you're grateful for each day - no matter how big or small. Another way to bring gratitude into your life is by letting those around you know how much they are appreciated. Not only will this get the ball rolling on spreading kindness, but it also may just make their day. 3. Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM). Loving-Kindness Meditation is a quiet, contemplative practice that focuses thought on your heart region. During this type of meditation, the focus is on encouraging warm, tender thoughts about a loved one or about yourself. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who practice LKM an hour a week felt greater positive emotions - such as love, contentment, and joy - while interacting with others. More benefits may include reduced pain and tension from migraines, reduced symptoms of depression, and LKM can even possibly slow down the aging process. It pays to be kind! Both for yourself, and the world around all of us. Make someone's day and your own day by going out and spreading kindness today.