Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day! Can you actually improve your health and the world around you through simple acts of kindness? According to some pretty impressive research, you can!
Helping a stranger pay for groceries, picking up dropped books and yes, even treating the person behind you at Starbucks to a cup of coffee can all have dramatic results on your brain health and overall wellbeing, according to research from the Mayo Clinic.
Practicing “loving kindness” can profoundly affect your attitude, outlook and even your health, and you can rewire your brain to be more present and kinder to others, giving your mood a daily boost.
In celebration of Random Acts of Kindness Day, you can join thousands of people across the country who are choosing to make the world a better place — and getting healthier while doing it!
Being kind doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. We’ve got some ideas on fun ways to do random acts of kindness in honor of RAK Day!
How kindness helps your body
Acts of kindness are proven to release happy hormones that boost your mood and overall wellbeing. In fact, according to Cedars-Sanai, being kind is so effective that it is often used in some types of psychotherapy and to combat illnesses.
Why acts of kindness make us feel so good comes down to the hormone oxytocin. Sometimes called “the love hormone,” oxytocin helps our brain learn social skills and trust. In fact, mothers produce oxytocin when they breastfeed to help strengthen the bond with their babies.
It’s also the hormone that is released when we are physically intimate with someone we adore. That’s that love and starry-eyed feeling you get when you cuddle with your loved one. When people perform random acts of kindness, they also get a rush of the “love hormone,” research suggests.
All these feel-good emotions can do wonders for your body. Numerous studies show that feeling happy and giving back results in lower blood pressure, possibly reduced risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease, and even plays a role in developing a stronger immune system.
If that’s not enough to convince you that kindness is healthy, consider this. When you engage in kind actions, endorphins are produced, acting as the body’s natural painkiller. Doctors find an average of 23 percent less cortisol, known as the stress hormone, in people who habitually practice kindness.
Creative ways to perform acts of kindness
If you need some ideas about how to give back and reap the benefits of kindness while helping others, a good starting place is the Random Act of Kindness Foundation website.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has been working on its mission “to inspire people to practice kindness and to ’pass it on’ to others” since 1995. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is an internationally recognized non-profit, and the website has a bounty of inspiration, tools and resources to help spread kindness.
If you’re just getting started, print off some “tag you’re it” cards from the foundation’s website and carry them in your purse or wallet. They’ll serve as a reminder to share an act of kindness and will then inspire the recipients to pass it on!
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has ideas you can search in all numerous categories, so you’ll be able to find ways to spread kindness in a way that you feel passionate about.
So what are some of the more fun and creative ways to spread kindness besides the “buy a cup of coffee for a stranger?” Try these:
- When you are at work or in a waiting room, leave extra money on a vending machine for the next person to use.
- Write letters and send care packages to soldiers serving overseas. You can find out how to do this by visiting SupportOurTroops.org.
- Help an elderly neighbor bring in groceries or mow their lawns for them.
- Learn to say “Hello” in several different languages so you can greet people from all walks of life.
- Take a new neighbor on a tour of the neighborhood or the city.
- Donate clean, gently-worn coats to your city’s homeless agencies for someone in need to use.
- Donate $20 to a local library to be used for random book fines.
- Send a handwritten letter to someone who you’ve not heard from in a while instead of just texting.
- Mentor a young child — Learn more about mentoring here.
- Leave an encouraging note (and decent tip) on a napkin for a server at your favorite restaurant.
- Read to children at your local library story time or at a youth shelter.
- Participate in Pack-A-Backpack for a child.
- Make a promise to post only positive things on social media for a week.
- Compliment a stranger sincerely. Choose something like the way they smile or how nice they were to someone else.
- Send coloring books and crayons to children who are staying in a hospital.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter or donate pet food and supplies. Volunteering to pet cats or walk dogs can give you the added joy of being around animals.
- Make simple birdseed cakes to hang up around a local park.
- Hide money in random places for strangers to find.
- Send flowers to someone for no reason at all.
- Run an errand for someone who is overwhelmed.
- Bake healthy cookies for the office. Get inspiration from our healthy cookie recipes!
- Tell your boss about a good employee. Or, tell a manager if an employee was especially pleasant and helpful.
- Buy your child’s teacher a special little gift, like fun socks, a gift card or a massage gift card.
- Support your local small businesses by buying local!
- Donate a book to a local free library or school.
- Let someone in front of you while driving, even if they are being kind of a jerk.
- Send a random “thank you” email to someone you admire or someone who has gone above and beyond