As the month that is all about hearts winds down, how is YOUR heart feeling? February is the perfect month to show some love and what better way to do it than through random acts of kindness. In fact, on February 17th we observed “Random Act of Kindness Day” as a special day to show some love to others. Did you miss it? It’s NOT too late! With a week left in this month thanks to leap year, it’s not too late to share some kindness.
Did you know that practicing random acts of kindness can actually be good for your health? Multiple research reports demonstrate oxytocin’s positive impact on the heart – it’s considered cardio-protective- by lowering blood pressure. Benefits are not just for your heart, but your overall health and outlook. Researchers have determined that helping others activates the part of your brain that feels pleasure, and releases oxytocin,. Oxytocin regulates emotion, which may lead to better moods, outlook, and happiness.
Acts of kindness don’t have to be a grand gesture, as even small acts of kindness can make a difference. Mother Teresa once said, “We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.” Why not take this last part of February and vow to do one or more acts of kindness this week?
Ever hear stories of someone paying it forward at the drive-through? One person buys the food or coffee of the person behind her, which inspires the next driver to pay for the one behind HIM………and so on, and so on. Kindness can be contagious! We hear stories like this as well as those who crowd fund and raise money for a stranger going through a tough time. Just this week, a little Australian boy with disabilities was bullied and strangers around the world including several celebrities who saw a video posted online witnessing his extreme distress and thoughts of self-harm due to the bullying rallied around and raised more than $210,000 – far in excess of the $10,000 goal – to send him to Disneyland. These stories of kindness warm the heart and touch far more than just the recipient, and according to the Mayo Clinic, have a scientific name, “loving kindness.” And small or big, it doesn’t matter.
Mayo Clinic also reports that not only can acts of loving kindness benefit our health, we can also rewire our brain to be more kind. Several strategies are offered including loving kindness mediation (LKM), intentional acts of kindness, and gratitude. Read more here about these strategies that can help one bring more kindness into the world.
What are some specific things you might do this week? Offer to take lunch to a senior citizen who doesn’t get out much – and bring yourself something so you can sit and enjoy conversation with them as they eat. Leave a small treat in your mailbox for the mail carrier. Donate to a good cause. Pick up a few extra food items for a local food pantry. Let someone over in traffic. See where this is going? It’s easy to be kind! If you need more ideas, take a look at Parade magazine’s 50 ideas. Your health will thank you for it and someone out there will be touched by it, guaranteed!
Mayo Clinic, (2018). How Sharing Kindness Can Make You Healthier and Happier. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/how-sharing-kindness-can-make-you-healthier-happier/art-20390060
Sager, J. (2020). Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week 2020 With 50 Acts of Kindness Ideas. Parade. Retrieved from https://parade.com/985225/jessicasager/random-acts-of-kindness-week-ideas-2020/
Feature image courtesy of Phil Bradley