Depression and Stress Buster - Kindness!
Looking for ways to beat the holiday blues? Focus on someone else! It benefits not only the recipient, but you as well!
I had an unexpected experience yesterday of a woman in a store who demonstrated random kindness to me. I was shopping in the book aisle next to her. She was very friendly and we began to chat. She told me that she had a coupon available for my purchase that she wasn't going to be using. She pulled out her flyer, and tore off her coupon and gave it to me!
Her kindness saved me 25% off of the total purchase of multiple books I was buying. It left me with a good feeling - not simply about the financial savings but about her unexpected and unnecessary kindness!
Did you know that kindness has a positive impact on not only the recipient, tout also the giver? Research has found that any act of kindness increases our own happiness. It is a natural antianxiety/anti-depressant for our brain. It actually helps our brain more rapidly transition from negative emotions (such as worry, or pessimism) to more positive emotions (optimism, happiness).
Kindness increases our energy as well as our mood. It increases our sense of connection to others and our compassion for others. It improves our self esteem as we feel good about our behaviors.
Kindness is good for our social relationships. It creates a positive loop cycle - as we show kindness to others, they in turn are more inclined to show kindness to us....thus, making it easier for us to show kindness again.
Researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD at the University of CA has studied happiness for 20 years. She has found that kindness boosts seratonin for not only the the giver, but also the receiver and even onlookers! Simply observing acts of kindness boosts our seratonin - our body, natural antidepressant! Dr Lyubomirsky has also learned that it's acts of kindness over time that can make us happier. That said, balance between compassion and self-sacrifice is necessary. If we lose that balance it can lead to a feeling of being overburdened, anxious and exhausted.
Studies have shown that to reap the full benefits of showing kindness it, important to vary the behaviors. Don't keep repeating the same thing. Look for new and creative ways to show kindness, and bonus as your own feelings of depression ease up.
A study in the Journal of Psychology found that you can increase your happiness and mood in as little as 10 days . Why not give yourself the 10 day challenge? Look for random and intentional ways to give yourself and someone else a better day! Keep a journal and write down what you do - this amplifies the positive effects on your mood.
Kahlil Gibran said "The smallest act of kindness is more than the greatest intention". It's easy to plan to take a step, but vital to actually take it! It can be as simple as holding the door for a stranger, giving up your seat on the bus, or buying a friend a cup of coffee.
Once when I was going through a difficult time in my life a dear friend started to make a habit of leaving little surprise gifts on my doorstep -- such as some cut daffodils, cookies she had baked, or some decorative little tissues with a note that told me I could "cry with pizazz". I will always remember her kindness and I also appreciate the opportunity to learn how meaningful such thoughtful gestures could be in a season of grief.
I like the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson "You can not do a kindness too soon for you never know how soon it will be too late". Start today! This is a great time of year to spread good cheer - to others as well as yourself! Unlike medications, there are no known negative side effects and it will help alleviate feelings of depression as well as anxiety.
If you would like to explore other mood boosting ideas call Kay today and schedule your free consultation!