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The impact of kindness on our mental health

Covid-19 support | 20 May 2020 | Maddie Burford

Kindness and our mental health are closely linked. Kindness not only makes us feel happy… it promotes compassion, gratitude, empathy and a sense of community which are all important for our emotional wellbeing.

The Coronavirus has had a huge impact on us and has changed our lives in more ways than we could have ever imagined a virus could. Since it swept through the UK, it has left many of us feeling unsettled and anxious. However, we have seen that through times of fear and uncertainty, there is community, love, support… and kindness.

In the UK, Colonel Tom Moore walked 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the NHS. Every Thursday at 8pm, people all over the country step out of their homes and clap in the streets to show their appreciation for the NHS and carers. Locally people are setting up groups of volunteers to offer support to the elderly and vulnerable in their communities. These are all acts of kindness.

Why does kindness make us feel good?

It makes us feel good when someone is kind to us and it also has the same effect when we are kind to others too! Research shows that being kind to other people can be beneficial for our own mental health. A study from 2018, by Rowland & Curry, found that being kind to others, others being kind to us and seeing acts of kindness amongst other people all have equally positive effects on our happiness; there really is not a downside to being kind!

That’s because being kind, and having other people be kind to us, releases hormones in our brain that help to improve our mood and overall wellbeing. It boosts the levels of serotonin and dopamine in our brain, which are known as the “happy” chemicals. Kindness can also increases our “love” hormone, oxytocin, which has been found to increase our self-esteem and optimism. Along with the increase of the ‘good’ hormones and chemicals in our brain, kindness decreases feelings of anxiety and depression, and the production of the stress hormone, cortisol.

Kindness has a positive effect on other people that spreads and causes a domino-like effect. When we are kind to someone, we make them feel good which can lead to them wanting to pass it on and make others feel the same way that we made them feel.

Throughout Mental Health Awareness week, we have been internally sharing ways to be kind and hoping our daily messages bring happiness to our Best Team, whether they’re on furlough or still working. We want our teams to feel connected during uncertain times and support their emotional wellbeing.

I will end by sharing just some small ways to be kind to others.

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

– Amelia Earhart

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