Bitesize Health Hack #10

You are invited to…

RAK it daily

Our number 10 hack is so, so simple and yet can have the biggest impact, because it literally cascades out to make the world an even more wonderful place.

It’s something that has been shown to improve emotional wellness and self-esteem, improve cardiovascular health, reduce blood pressure, reduce inflammation, increase lifespan, improve cognitive function[7] and [8] and decrease pain, stress, anxiety and depression.[2]

Not only for you, but to the people around you too!

But let’s hear from the awesome peeps at randomactsofkindness.org, because they explain it beautifully…

THE HACK

Perform one random act of kindness every day.

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The Challenges

#1 Isn’t it funny how whenever you decide to do something, you suddenly run out of ideas?  Well, the awesome crew at RAK have us covered!  Their website, www.randomactsofkindness.org is literally packed with ideas to inspire your daily random acts of kindness.

#2 Do you find, like many of us, that even though you rate kindness as one of your top values, when it comes to the opportunity to act with kindness you often hesitate?  Sadly, we too often tend to hold back, perhaps in concern about embarrassing the other person, or appearing too familiar or a bit of an odd bod.  But take a few deep belly breaths (Hack #1) to step into Presence (Hack #3) and shrug off your survival brain based inhibitions to be your true self and make this moment a better one for both you and the other person.

#3 But what if you’re thoroughly hacked off with somebody and just don’t feel like being kind to them? Tap into your non-judging compassionate self and remember that we do not know what challenges or struggles they face right now. Once we remind ourselves of this, it is so much easier to handle the situation in a more positive and kind manner.

#4 And what if you’re just not in the mood? The upside here is that being kind will likely improve your mood instantaneously. When you give an act of kindness, it is hard to feel negativity. At the very least it is a boost to your own self-worthiness that you are in a position to give to somebody else.  So if you’re feeling too grumpy to be kind, start by simply lifting the corners of your mouth and just run with what happens next…

#5 Being kind to others is kinda easy (most of the time), but one thing that almost all my clients find a huge challenge is self-kindness and it’s a huge block to leading a happy and fulfilled life. That’s a topic for another day, but for now, performing a random act of kindness to somebody else is also going to double up as kindness to self. It’s a wonderful and simple head-start to something that can take time and energy to change.

Because not only can a few kind words improve somebody else’s day (or week or even life!) and help you live true to your heartfelt values… it also makes YOU happier AND healthier!

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My take on the

SCIENCEY SHIZZLE

(if you’re all about “But why…?”)

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To you, it might feel obvious that kindness leads to feeling fulfilled, which leads to being happier and healthier.  Or the connection may feel a little tenuous at best.  But luckily there are some amazing scientists, such as happiness expert, Sonja Lyubomirsky, who actually carry out research into happiness and they have shown that acts of kindness have a positive effect on happiness, particularly when done in a shorter time period.

Other studies have shown that kindness brings improvements to emotional wellness, sense of life-purpose, lower BMI, inflammation, cholesterol reading and cardiovascular health [7] and [8]. Older adults, in particular, have experienced significant benefits, including physical and cognitive improvements, more connectedness, lowered blood pressure and even mortality.[8]

Essentially, being kind produces oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’), which helps to lower blood pressure, improve heart-health and increase self-esteem and optimism (i.e. happiness).  Kindness brings about more energy and longer lifespan, while decreasing pain, stress, anxiety and depression.[2]

Dr Waguih William IsHak, a professor of psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, agrees that kindness is chemical, saying that “practising kindness is a way to happiness that we know works” and that, as well as oxytocin, studies have also linked random acts of kindness to dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter), serotonin (which helps to regulate mood) and an endorphin-like chemical called Substance P, which can help relieve pain.  Dr IsHak says that this science behind acts of kindness is influencing the treatment of certain mental health conditions, through oxytocin, mindfulness, gratitude and acts of kindness.[3]

And a more recent study concluded that not only do acts of kindness boost your happiness, but that it doesn’t make any difference whether this kindness is directed to strangers or the people you love.[4]

And researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California found that happiness is infectious!  So, put your hesitation aside and start with one random act of kindness a day to spread kindness and happiness, because with those little acts, you really can change the world![5]

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References
  1. Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky’s talk on kindness https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/video/item/happiness_for_a_lifetime
  2. Some of the science of kindness, from the awesome RAKtavist crew! https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness
  3. Info from Dr Waguih William IsHak at Cedars-Sinai Hospital https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/science-of-kindness.html
  4. Study linking kindness to boosting happiness https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29702043/
  5. Study showing that happiness really is contagious https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081205094506.htm
  6. A bunch of kindness ideas from Random Acts of Kindness https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas
  7. Some thoughts on kindness and happiness from Harvard Health https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-heart-and-science-of-kindness-2019041816447
  8. An article summarising numerous studies on the benefits of kindness https://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-power-of-giving-what-we-get-when-we-give/
  9. And if you like listening to things, here is a podcast about the benefit of kindness https://www.uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2020/10/the-science-behind-kindness