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Did you know acts of kindness can cause several positive effects on your health? Kindness or benevolence is the quality of being friendly, empathetic, generous, and considerate. If you treat others the way you want to be treated, science says it may improve your quality of life.
Here is what happens to your body after showing kindness towards others.
Have you ever noticed how happy you feel after completing a good deed? Showing kindness boosts your serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating moods. Similar to when you exercise, showing kindness releases endorphins through a phenomenon known as “helper’s high.”
When you extend a helping hand or act upon feelings of care and compassion, science claims you will feel happier and content.
Altruism — the belief in or practice of selfless concern for others — releases the hormone oxytocin, which is occasionally referred to as the “love hormone.” According to Dr. David Hamilton, author of How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body and several other wellness books, oxytocin releases nitric oxide, a chemical that dilates (expands) the blood vessels. Dilation of arterial blood vessels reduces blood pressure. Therefore, oxytocin is a cardioprotective hormone due to its ability to protect the heart by maintaining healthy blood pressures.
The love hormone additionally decreases inflammation and free radicals, two contributing factors to aging. Further research suggests that compassion increases the activity of the vagus nerve, which helps reduce inflammation.
Anxiety, whether in the form of moderate nervousness or severe panic, is a natural and universal human experience. There are many ways to reduce anxiety, including yoga, meditation, prescription medication, and natural remedies. However, a study on happiness states that showing kindness is one inexpensive way to lessen feelings of anxiety.
According to the researchers, “social anxiety is associated with low positive affect (PA), a factor that can significantly affect psychological well-being and adaptive functioning.” Positive affect regards a person’s experience of positive emotions, such as pleasure, care, and diligence. The authors found that those who performed good deeds showed a significant increase in PA.
Whenever you feel anxious, look for opportunities to help others. Anything from helping the elderly cross the street, smiling at your local barista, or complimenting a stranger can make a big difference in easing your worries.
Kindness strengthens the immune system, and believe it or not, it even improves immunity in people who observe benevolence in action. A group of researchers at Harvard University showed students a 50-minute video about Mother Teresa and her work among the poor of India. After which, they measured the saliva level of immunoglobulin, an antibody that plays a vital role in immunity. The results revealed a notable increase in the antibody in all 132 students.
Unhappiness is a growing epidemic, and the cure may be right under our noses. If kindness is the secret to a healthy and happy life — cheer up someone, start a fundraiser, volunteer, pray for a friend in need or simply help others in general. You have nothing to lose — only gain.