The concept of kindness isn’t one many are unfamiliar with; for the most part, we grow up hearing the phrase, “Treat people with kindness” and are in other ways encouraged to practice kindness in our daily life.
In our adult lives, however, how often does kindness get pushed to the wayside? How often do we actually go out of our way to use words of kindness or practice truly kind acts?
Kindness and its benefits
Kindness isn’t just something you do or say to make yourself feel good; kindness, at its core, is “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate,” according to the Oxford Dictionary. It’s about treating others with respect and thoughtfulness with which you would want to be treated in order to benefit everyone.
Everyone should, at all times, seek to practice kindness, but for those in recovery from a mental health illness or addiction, the benefits of kindness can directly and significantly impact the recovery journey in a positive way.
Kindness can boost your mental health
Practicing kindness, while it benefits those around you, directly benefits you as well by increasing self-esteem, improving mood and helping you grow in compassion and empathy. When you do something kind for someone else and witness the positive impact it has on them, you not only feel good about yourself, you feel encouraged to continue the habit.
This can lead to an all-around increase in mental health as the focal point of your actions becomes centered around goodwill towards others.
Kindness can boost your physical health
Research diving into the impact of kindness has proven that those who make it a habit see numerous health benefits as well. Acts of kindness naturally release dopamine and serotonin in the mind, stimulating the brain’s reward system to fire, i.e. increasing positive feelings and emotions. This can lead to an overall positive mental state.
Practicing kindness also decreases blood pressure and cortisol. The reduction in cortisol, a stress hormone, will be felt immediately as the pressure from stress is reduced.
Kindness can benefit your relationships
For those who struggled with mental illness or addiction, it might be a priority of yours to begin healing relationships hurt during that time. Kindness is a good, effective and sincere way of doing so.
Plus, when you offer genuine kindness to another, it’s more readily received. True, it might take time to fully heal these relationships, but by being kind in your words and actions, you can begin to repair these relationships; not to mention the fact that kindness is contagious, and you’ll likely experience it being given in return.
It may decrease anxiety
A study done on social anxiety revealed that practicing kindness can actually decrease symptoms and lead to a more relaxed state of being. Social anxiety is linked to low positive affect, a factor that determines how one is receptive to feelings like joy, excitement or interest. By practicing kindness, positive affect is increased and symptoms of anxiety, consequently, decrease.
Taking time for acts of kindness
Regardless of the benefits of kindness, many people do not take time in their daily life to implement it. With full schedules, distractions and the ever-present hustle of life, slowing down to notice the needs of another isn’t often something we take the time to do. In fact, sometimes we’re so busy that we completely overlook the need to even take care of ourselves.
We know you’re busy, but there’s some truth to the old adage, “Stop and smell the roses.” It benefits our overall health to take a pause and notice the small, simple things in the world around us. When we get out of our own heads and remain present in the moment, we’re more likely to notice more moments when we can practice kindness.
Maybe it’s a family member who is lonely; perhaps a coworker who’s struggling; it might even be a stranger who is having a particularly challenging moment. You might even choose to be kind to someone who looks like they have it all together, just for the sake of it.
It doesn’t matter who you direct your kindness towards so long as you work on noticing those moments when kindness could be particularly beneficial. Maybe someone on the road is pushing all your buttons, but you give them plenty of space or let them pass you even so; it might be a coworker struggling with an assignment, so you get them coffee to help get them through the day.
Practicing kindness doesn’t have to be elaborate so long as it’s intentional.
Making kindness a habit
Some acts of kindness, like volunteering, can be very intentional; others, like holding a door open or helping carry something, might be unplanned, but just as impactful. Additionally, practicing kindness through your words can be an equally effective way of transforming your life, and someone else’s.
If you’re intentional about making kindness a habit, you’ll begin to feel the positive impact it has in your life almost immediately.
To further benefit your mental health
Acts and words of kindness directly impact your mental health and can benefit your journey in recovery; when practiced in conjunction with strategies from cognitive behavior therapies, you can further improve your mental health and well-being.
To learn more, contact Rehab After Work and discover which treatment program could be right for you.