Kindness is completely free to give and receive, and as we are all learning, it is also extremely beneficial to our health.
There is a considerable depth of scientific findings that prove the positive impact of kindness on health and well-being, and that kindness is physiologically necessary to live a full, productive, happy life.
You may have heard someone say that kindness is contagious. Well, that is being proven by science. A growing body of scientific research shows how our neurons become active, and hormones are secreted, when we give or receive kindness. This positive effect on our hormones is felt not only for the giver and the receiver of a kind act, but even by observers.
Kindness boosts the production of serotonin, which brings out our natural loving and caring good nature. Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurochemical that has a calming, mood regulating, and anti-anxiety effect. With enough serotonin in the body, we are optimist, focused, reflective and thoughtful. When we are low in serotonin, we may feel irritable, anxious, impatient, and stressed.
Dr. David R. Hamilton explains, ”acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone oxytocin in the brain and throughout the body. Of recent interest is its significant role in the cardiovascular system.” Dr. Hamilton cites that oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, that expands the blood vessels, this reduces blood pressure. Therefore, oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because, it protects the heart.
Kindness is known to boost endorphins, which are linked to improved nervous and immune system functions. Authors, Allan Luks and Peggy Payne tell us in their book, The Healing Power of Doing Good that people naturally feel good when they give, help or serve others. It is because they experience something called “helper’s high,” described as a feeling of exhilaration and burst of energy similar to the endorphin-based euphoria experienced after exercise. That “helper’s high” is then followed by a period of calmness and serenity.