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December 5, 2023

The Mental Health Benefits of Simple Acts of Kindness

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

Oftentimes, performing an act of kindness is seen as a way to “pay it forward” to someone else, hoping they will continue to spread positivity throughout their day. It is typical to think about how our actions affect others, but seldom do we think about how our small acts can influence ourselves.

Research conducted by The Ohio State University recently found that performing “prosocial behaviors,” more commonly known as, “random acts of kindness,” can promote a social connection from person to person. Social connections are essential to well-being, and individuals that are experiencing depressive or anxious feelings tend to have weak social connections. Therefore, conducting a simple act of kindness can take your mind off the anxious or depressive thoughts you have been feeling, and replace them with optimism and higher self-esteem (Grabmeier, 2023).

So, what is really happening inside your mind when you perform acts of kindness? Oxytocin, the “love hormone”, is released. This release increases one's self-esteem and optimism. Combining this increase with the decreased levels of cortisol that also occur, can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve your mood (McCraty, et al., 1998).

Ways to spread kindness throughout your day:

  • Hold the door for the person behind you
  • Smile at someone who looks like they’re having a bad day
  • Pay for the person behind you
  • Bake cookies for a friend

Acts of kindness a child can do:

  • Invite someone to play with you
  • Compliment a classmate on their work

Ways to spread kindness as a parent:

  • Leave a message for your child in their lunch box

Challenge yourself. Try and complete three random acts of kindness each week. You may be surprised how good you can feel by performing these small actions!


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