Why giving is good for you
Give a little kindness this Christmas and you’ll receive all sorts of surprising health benefits in return
The season of goodwill is upon us, giving us all the perfect excuse to show others a bit of extra kindness. When you do something for someone else, you get a lot more back than just a warm feeling. In fact, research shows that a little kindness and generosity could give you a huge psychological boost, making you happier and healthier than folk who are less generous.
“When we’re kind, there is a chemical ‘pay-off’ – we get bursts of the anxiety-reducing neurochemical oxytocin,” says stress transformation coach Jane Evans (www. thejaneevans.com). “This chemical makes us feel good and relaxed. As an added bonus we also get a dose of dopamine, the pleasure-seeking hormone which rewards us with a sense of wellbeing.”
Christmas is the ideal time to be kind, because so many of us feel stressed and overwhelmed by the extra pressure and commitments. “If you’re feeling anxious, then an act of kindness, such as holding a door open, helping someone get their buggy off the train or just smiling, can connect us to others,” says Jane.
“This takes us out of fight or flight mode, so we feel safer and more relaxed. Our heart rate settles, we breathe more easily, our muscles relax and we get a sense that life is good.”
Your kindness will help to ease the stresses of the other person too, giving them the same benefits. It’s not just your mood and mental health that will be improved. “There has also been research to show that kindness can have a positive effect on our physical health as well,” says Jaime Thurston author of Kindness: The
Little Thing that Matters
Most (£6.96, Harper Thorsons). “Generosity of spirit helps to slow the ageing process and is good for our hearts.” Oxytocin helps reduce blood pressure, so keeps your heart healthy.”
‘Just letting people know you are thinking of them can make all the difference’