Acts of kindness towards others could boost our own well-being and even help ease depression.
They might boost serotonin or dopamine levels – these are neurotransmitters associated with feeling good. They might even reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure. These effects can also happen in the person the kindness is directed towards, and even those who witness it! Acts of kindness can also strengthen relationships and bonds with other people – and improve our self-image and relationship with ourselves. If it feels too scary to walk up to someone and offer a random act of kindness, there are ways to do it without even being present.
It can, of course, be very difficult to do this because depression steals energy and encourages withdrawal from others. It can be hard to even think of what to do, or find the motivation to do it. That is why I rather like Action for Happiness’ “Kindness Calendar” which can be downloaded as an image file or a pdf here. The Kindness Calendar has a small suggestion for each day in December – and its not too late to start. You could print it out and tick it off, or share it on social media. There are also ideas of things you could do here. Acts of kindness could be something you do alone, or get together with friends.
While acts of kindness for others appears to give the biggest effect, remember to be kind to yourself. It’s not necessary empty your own reserves or cause yourself severe unhappiness, for the sake of someone else. Do only what you feel comfortable and secure in doing, and remember it’s okay to be pleased with yourself for it. You might worry that you aren’t doing something that is “enough” – but where might that come from?
Who decides what is “good enough”? Only you.