It might not be obvious at first, but just being kind can actually be good for your health.
Stay with us, as health is an umbrella term. We’re all starting to better understand ‘wellness’ more holistically, as it’s not just about eating your greens and going jogging!
Some might say that over the years we’ve lost our sense of community and it’s left a heart shaped hole in many of us that we’re ever so desperate to fill.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though many of us were facing economic uncertainty ourselves, charity donations across the US and Europe rose considerably, perhaps because people felt more empathy and got closer to understanding how others have been struggling.
Perspective is key here, as ultimately, your outlook on things makes all the difference. Some people are a glass half empty, some people are a glass half full, and some people are just happy to have a glass.
Many companies are starting to understand the ‘Kindness Economy’ and that doing the right thing, can actually pay dividends, quite literally. As the saying goes, ‘you get what you give’. After all, the corporate conscience needs to make an impression on people’s conscience as consumer behaviour is often intrinsically linked to emotional behaviour.
Simply put, doing the right thing feels good, because it’s good. Kindness matters; and kindness feels good. The best thing about kindness, is that it’s a resource we can all have in abundance and it can never run out.
Humans are social beings, and our overall health improves significantly when we are connected in a community. A sense of belonging is important to us all.
Many of our altruistic and kind traits are likely explained by our evolutionary biology, as human infants (by other species standards) require more nurture, care and attention than just about every other mammal. We have literally evolved to care and nurture.
The reward regions of the brain activate, such as the septal area and ventral striatum – the very same ones that light up when you get three cherries in a row on a slot machine.
The reward regions of the brain are hardwired to parenting, as nature has tried to make sure we don’t flee from a screaming, needy baby.
The most precious commodity we all have is time, and volunteering can be an amazing gesture of goodwill and you might just get as much out of it as you give. This could be due to the way we’re wired, as the reward areas in the amygdala in our brains are closely joined with our sympathetic nervous system, to regulate our blood pressure and inflammatory response. This is why altruistic acts can actually improve your cardiovascular health, to help you live longer.
Also, don’t forget the benefits of moving more, if you’re helping out doing something charitable, you’re less likely to just be sat around, so consider the physical benefits too.
This can be particularly important as you get older, as many who retire, still yearn to do something that’s both useful and helpful to others. Whether that be volunteering or keeping up with your grandchildren - kind acts for others help keep both your mind and body fitter and more agile.
So, perhaps it’s worth seeing what you can do for others, the gestures don’t need to be big, just filled with heaps of kindness.