Kindness Matters

You may recognise the expression “it is better to give than receive”, but did you know this is backed up by research?

People who are kind and compassionate see clear benefits to their wellbeing and happiness. They may even live longer. Kindness can also help reduce stress and improve our emotional wellbeing.

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We all have so much going on in our lives - including competing strains and stresses – not to mention the current coronavirus pandemic. This can see kindness pushed to one side, in favour of what is urgent or trending now.

It can be easy to signal kindness by posting online and following a trend, but harder to commit to kindness in our daily words and actions.

But if we take the time to be kind to other people, we can reap the emotional dividends. It can really make a difference and especially for people who are vulnerable or struggling.

Now is the time to re-imagine a kinder society that better protects our mental health.

Kindness could be built into business decisions, government policy and official systems in a way that supports everyone’s mental health and also reduces discrimination and inequality.-But that can start by individual commitments to showing kindness in our words and our actions.

We have written this guide to show the positive impact helping others can have on your own mental health, including some tips and suggestions to inspire you.

So, take a few minutes, have a read and think about doing something kind for a friend or a stranger today.

What do we mean by kindness? 

Kindness is choosing to do something that helps others or yourself, motivated by genuine warm feelings.

Kindness, or doing good, often means putting other people’s needs before our own. It could be by giving up our seat on a bus to someone who might need it more, or offering to make a cup of tea for someone at work.

Evidence shows that helping others can also benefit our own mental health and wellbeing. For example, it can reduce stress as well as improve mood, self-esteem and happiness.

There are so many ways to help others as part of our everyday lives. Good deeds needn’t take much time or cost any money.

Small changes can make a big difference.

What are the health benefits of kindness? 

Helping others feels good 

Studies have found that acts of kindness are linked to increased feelings of wellbeing.1 Helping others can also improve our support networks and encourage us to be more active.  This, in turn, can improve our self-esteem. There is some evidence to suggest that when we help others, it can promote changes in the brain that are linked with happiness.

It creates a sense of belonging and reduces isolation 

Helping others is thought to be one of the ways that people create, maintain, and strengthen their social connections.

For example, volunteering and helping others can help us feel a sense of belonging, make new friends, and connect with our communities.

Face-to-face activities such as volunteering at a food bank can also help reduce loneliness and isolation.

It helps keep things in perspective 

Many people don’t realise the impact a different perspective can have on their outlook on life.

There is some evidence that being aware of our own acts of kindness, as well as the things we are grateful for, can increase feelings of happiness, optimism and satisfaction.7

Doing good may help you to have a more positive outlook about your own circumstances.

 It helps to make the world a happier place – one act of kindness can often lead to more! 

Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place. An act of kindness can boost feelings of confidence, being in control, happiness and optimism.8

They may also encourage others to repeat the good deeds they’ve experienced themselves – contributing to a more positive community.9

The more you do for others, the more you do for yourself 

The benefits of helping others can last long after the act itself, for those offering kindness, and those who benefit. This, in turn, can improve our self-esteem.5