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Century Park Blog

7 Ways Being Kind Is Good for Your Health and Well-Being

Date Posted



Health Tips

Being Kind

Practicing kindness to others (and to yourself) has been linked to better stress management, improved heart health, and even living longer.

You know that showing someone kindness can make you feel good inside. But you may not know that there's scientific research that suggests that those warm, fuzzy feelings are also good for your long-term health and well-being.

Kindness is when we do something to benefit someone else - and, as the American Psychological Association explains, it's usually thought of as motivated by truly wanting to help someone, not by fear of punishment or an attempt to get an explicit reward in exchange for your behavior. Kindness can also be practiced toward ourselves, which is self-kindness.

Both kindness toward others and kindness toward yourself benefits your health and well-being. Here are some of the various ways.

Kindness Is an Antidote to Stress

Kindness promotes generosity, connection with others, and a feeling of inclusion, which ultimately can improve your resilience against stress. It's not that practicing kindness eliminates the stressor itself (it can't, for instance, make your deadline go away); but regularly practicing kindness bolsters your ability to cope and respond more calmly to stressors that show up.

Kindness Can Help With Anxiety and Depression

Being good to others can go a long way in supporting your own mental health - and so can directing that kindness toward yourself. In one study, practicing meditation that promotes positivity and kindness for yourself and others (rather than anger or self-loathing) was found to be effective in helping treat depression and social anxiety.

Kindness May Improve Heart Health

Those who have psychological well-being - defined as having purpose in life, optimism, and happiness - have a lower likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, research suggests. And practicing kindness (along with other things like identifying personal strengths and recalling positive life experiences) is a measure of this type of well-being.

Kindness May Help With Diabetes Management

When blood sugar isn't properly controlled and you're dealing with one of the many complications that can arise from the disease, you may find that your mood suffers. A curious thing happens, though, when you use self-compassion, which means treating oneself with kindness and understanding when faced with difficult emotions. According to research, people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who practiced self-compassion for eight weeks had reduced depression scores and distress associated with their diseases. Self-kindness may decrease stress hormones (which can otherwise elevate blood sugar) and soothe your nervous system, which may affect blood sugar, researchers say.

Kindness Can Help People With Cancer Feel Supported

Kindness helps the giver and receiver. People who had early-stage breast cancer and performed random acts of kindness to others said they felt more social support, as it may help strengthen connections with others, make people feel more connected, and increase one's social circle, according to one study.

Kindness Promotes Happiness

More recent research found that people who performed kindness activities for seven days - whether targeted toward friends and family, strangers, or themselves - reported a boost in happiness. And the kinder they were (measured in terms of the more acts of kindness performed), the happier they were.

Kindness May Help You Live Longer

One study of nearly 13,000 adults over age 50 found that those who had the highest sense of purpose had a 46 percent lower risk of mortality, as well as more optimism and less loneliness.

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