Who knew that helping someone else can help YOU?
Mental health professionals continually stress the importance of self-care and doing things for yourself. Self-care is essential to one’s physical and emotional well-being, and is a critical element in maintaining mental health. Most acts of self-care involve doing things that involve yourself being the sole interest, but rarely do people recognize that doing something kind for someone else can even improve your own well-being. Even the smallest act of kindness or consideration can make a benevolent impact on a stranger’s day. By engaging in acts of kindness, those selfless actions promote feelings of positivity for the people who are on the receiving end, as well as for yourself. Considerable research has shown that engaging in random acts of kindness can increase happiness (temporarily or overall if done on a regular basis), decrease social anxiety, promote self-esteem, and lastly, it’s a contagious form of compassion that impacts the entire world around you.
- Pay for the person in line behind you (their coffee, slice of pizza, anything really!)
- Smile at a stranger
- Buy a homeless person a hot meal
- Send someone you know flowers anonymously
- Listen with interest and avoid interrupting (to those who you know or do not know)
- Babysit for free
- Put sticky notes with positive slogans on the mirrors in restrooms or on people’s cars
- Pick up someone else’s litter
- Donate your old belongings to those in need
- Let someone at the store go in front of you at the checkout line
- Don’t write the angry internet comment you’re thinking of writing
- When everyone around you is gossiping about someone, be the one to butt in with something nice
- Give away stuff for free on Craigslist
- Compliment a stranger
- Volunteer for the neighborhood clean-up or for a non-profit event
Selfless acts of kindness also have been shown to reduce blood pressure and secrete oxytocin, the hormone associated with attachment; which has a calming effect. In light of this information, here are some creative ideas for completing random acts of kindness. Spread the love!