Written by Jordan Meehan, LCSW
Kindness is an action that results from having a compassionate mindset towards others. It embodies the choice of placing another’s needs or comfort above one’s own needs. The beauty of kindness is that it can have all sorts of benefits in all areas of a person’s life, particularly with improving mental health.
Think about the last time you showed someone kindness. Maybe you waved to your neighbor as you were walking out the door or you said, “Thank you,” to the bus driver. How did you feel in the immediate moment after you showed that person kindness? Chances are, you felt some sort of positive emotion. Plus, the person you showed kindness towards might have felt good too.
Show yourself some kindness
How Can Kindness Improve Your Mental Health?
Many people have heard about the “feel-good” hormones, dopamine and serotonin, and the “stress” hormone, cortisol. When a person demonstrates kindness towards others, dopamine and serotonin are released in the body, which can result in positive feelings, an optimistic outlook, and generally better mental health. Kindness also helps to decrease cortisol levels in the body, thus leading to less stress, anxiety, and other negative feelings. Acts of kindness do not have to be grand gestures to be impactful to your mental health. They can be small, random gestures that take very little time and energy. While the risks to show kindness are very low, the rewards can be very high.
Kindness as a Life Value
Kindness is often a value that many people forget about as being a necessary part of leading a happy or fulfilled life. In current society, people are often rushed, stressed, and hyper-focused on their own needs. Thus, kindness can become forgotten as an important part of living in connection with others. Showing kindness gives people a chance to shift focus away from themselves and onto others. It allows the opportunity to see and experience how one’s choices can improve the lives of others, even in small ways. Since human beings are not designed to live isolated from others, showing kindness provides an opportunity to experience more positive feelings with the bonus of feeling more connected to others.
Being kind towards others can do a lot to improve a person’s mental health. Having good mental health does not mean you will always feel positive emotions. However, the more frequently you experience positive feelings, the better your overall mental health will be.
20 Ways to Show Kindness
Showing kindness does not mean that you have to constantly be thinking about and doing things for others. It’s about finding a balance between focusing on your needs while also finding ways to show compassion towards others. Here is a list of many things you can do to start incorporating more acts of kindness into your daily life to improve your mental health.
- Help your neighbor shovel snow
- Give a compliment
- Carry groceries for the elderly woman to her car
- Give a snack to the homeless person you pass each day while going to work
- Tell your bus drivers, taxi drivers, and ride-share drivers, “Thank you”
- Text a friend that you are thankful for their friendship
- Send a birthday card to a family member
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter
- Offer to babysit a friend’s children
- Donate items to charity
- Hold the door for someone
- Smile at and say “Hello” to the front desk person at your doctor’s office, dentist office, work, etc.
- Buy a cup of coffee for someone
- Pick up and throw away trash on the sidewalk
- Allow someone to cut in front of you in line
- Allow another car to merge in front of you
- Write an online review for a restaurant that you love
- Leave an encouraging note along with your tip for the waiter when at a restaurant
- Give up your seat on the train or bus
- Offer to bring dinner to a sick friend or family member
While small and random acts of kindness take very little energy to do, they can change a person’s entire mood. You can’t prevent negative emotions from occurring, but you can make the choice to show kindness to others.
Restorative Counseling is Here to Help You Improve Your Mental Health
Showing kindness towards others is one important way to support your mental health. However, some mental health concerns require specific assistance from trained professionals. At Restorative Counseling, our clinicians work to meet you where you are in order to help you heal and be able to live your life to the fullest. If you are interested in gaining support to improve your mental health, schedule an appointment today.