Random Acts of Kindness Day: How Being Kind Can Improve Your Own Mental Health

17 Feb by HPA/LiveWell Clinical Psychology

This year, February 17 marks Random Acts of Kindness Day. Random Acts of Kindness Day is a nationally observed day that continues to grow in popularity each year. Different groups, organizations, and individuals celebrate this day in an effort to encourage random acts of kindness, and to provide education on the many benefits.

Random Acts of Kindness Day can be credited to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, a non-profit, internationally recognized organization.

Kindness and Mental Health

The importance of Random Acts of Kindness Day is found in the strong connection that exists between acts of kindness and the potential for improved mental health. In fact, research has shown decreased levels of anxiety and depression in those who engage in intentional acts of kindness. Along the same lines, studies indicate kindness stimulates serotonin (the “feel-good” neurotransmitter in the brain) production, resulting in greater levels of happiness and joy.

There are other benefits of acting in kind ways, including:

  • Increased energy – many report feeling stronger and experiencing improved energy levels after serving others.
  • Lower blood pressure levels – acting in kind ways creates a sense of “emotional warmth” through the release of oxytocin (also known as the “cardioprotective” hormone).
  • Decreased anxiety – one study showed after one month of performing random acts of kindness, a group of highly anxious individuals reported more positive moods, and more manageable anxiety.
  • Decreased cortisol (stress hormone) levels – those who regularly participate in acts of kindness have lower levels of cortisol by over 20% when compared to others. Lower cortisol levels have also shown to slow the aging process.

Random Acts of Kindness Day Examples

The benefits of acts of kindness are clear. Yet, it can be difficult to know where to start. There are endless possibilities if you are interested in participating in random acts of kindness. A few popular examples include:

  • Send care package to soldier overseas
  • Give a stranger a compliment
  • Serve at a homeless shelter
  • Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant
  • Hide money for strangers to find

And while the list of random acts of kindness examples has the potential to be very long, there is an important one that should not be (but often is) forgotten – the act of being kind to YOURSELF!

If you want to find out more about Random Acts of Kindness Day or other ways you can improve your mental health contact HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York at 518-218-1118.