February is famous for love and beauty. But what about kindness?
Kindness is an expression of love, and is celebrated in the United States during the February 13th-17th.
Recent global events have shaken us at our core. Mental health issues like anxiety and depression are on the rise, and for better or worse, many people will never be the same (5).
That’s why it’s important to be intentional about being kind to people.
The Random Acts of Kindness Organization is hosting a variety of events that hope to educate and encourage better well being among you and your community (3). From social media to coloring contests, there are many ways to get involved.
In today’s world, we’re all busy. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. You may be running late for work and decide you don’t have time to buy that homeless person a biscuit for breakfast.
But there’s a phenomenon out there called the Ripple Effect. Behavioral scientists Nicholas and Fowler observed how the choices people make not only affect their immediate circle, but can expand up to 6 degrees of separation (2).
This means that even the simplest act of kindness has the ability to make a difference in the lives of people you’ve never even met. Have you had a complete stranger pay for your meal, or pick up something you didn’t know you dropped? If an incident came to mind, it means that impacted you enough that you remembered that.
Not only does it help you mentally, kindness has physical health benefits. Studies show that participating in acts of kindness can (4):
- Release endorphins: Being kind has been shown to release endorphins and oxytocin, your feel-good hormones (8).
- Lower cortisol levels: Stress causes your adrenal glands to release cortisol. Promoting kindness can decrease your cortisol stress levels within the body (7).
- Improve mood: A study tested two groups of people for levels of happiness. The group that participated in acts of kindness towards others reported improved moods over those who didn’t .
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety: One clinical study demonstrated how showing acts of kindness helped reduce feelings of anxiety (9).
- Alleviate feelings of pain: Observations have shown that those who volunteer tend to have less aches and pains (11).
- Boost your energy levels: Also known as a “helper’s high”, some studies suggest those who show acts of kindness can experience feelings of increased strength and energy (11).
- Lower blood pressure: One study observed that people who lived in places like Denmark or the Netherlands were consistently happier, as well as maintaining lower blood pressures over those living in places like Germany or Italy (6).
Some of the common threads behind these studies are that when we do something for someone else, we benefit as well.
Research confirms the importance small acts have on the mind and body. Even with that knowledge, it’s up to you to choose to spread kindness.
Ideas to Try
So kindness clearly has some amazing benefits. How can you practically engage in this every day?
There are endless ways to show someone kindness, but to give you a few starters here are 30 ways you can be kind (1):
- Bake cookies for an elderly neighbor
- Run/Walk a 5K for a good cause
- Pick up litter on a street
- Let someone cut in front of you in line
- Serve at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen
- Put coins into someone’s parking meter
- Bring in a fruit tray to your coworkers
- Help do chores on someone’s farm
- Leave some money on a vending machine for the next person
- Write a note that says, “You Matter” and leave it under a windshield wiper
- Tell someone God loves them
- Leave the waitress a generous tip
- Help someone replace a flat tire
- Offer to mentor a younger child or teenager
- Buy/Pick some flowers and give them to strangers you meet
- Pay for someone’s movie ticket
- Write a letter to a soldier or prisoner
- Hold the door open for someone
- Participate in shoe or coat drives for the homeless
- Offer to walk the neighbor’s dog
- Help a senior citizen or disabled person with their groceries
- Plant a tree, flower or bush
- Get involved with a community event
- Be willing to learn about things you don’t understand
- Ask for help seeing someone else’s point of view
- Babysit for free
- Pay a stranger’s overdue library fee
- Offer to rake your neighbor’s yard
- Wash someone’s car
- Hand out water bottles on a hot day
This is just a snippet – there are hundreds of other ideas on how you can show someone a small act of kindness. Hopefully some of these ideas inspire you to think outside the box and bring a smile to someone’s face today.
Random Acts of Kindness Week in the middle of February. It’s a time to pause from our busy lives, reflect on our daily interactions with others, and adjust as needed.
It can seem overwhelming to think of all that needs to be done, but small beginnings can have a big impact.
Knowing the physical and mental health benefits of kindness, it’s encouraging to know you can help improve not only your wellbeing, but that of those around you.
Which small act of kindness do you plan to do this week? Let us know, and don’t forget to share this with friends and family!
References & Disclaimer
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author