Kindness in service of holistic health
Here are a few acts of kindness that will help you take care of your holistic health, meaning your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
What is kindness?
For starters, what do we mean by kindness? To be kind is to care about the well-being of others. It’s about wanting other people to be happy without expecting anything in return. We now know that kindness has health benefits. It’s even considered to be a source of well-being. Indeed, it leads to the secretion of so-called happiness hormones, which in turn help with motivation, confidence, social interactions and empathy. When you’re kind to someone, it triggers your brain’s reward system, leading to feelings of satisfaction and harmony. This reinforces our behaviour in a positive way and encourages us to behave the same way again so we can re-experience these feelings of satisfaction. These unconscious changes in our behaviour can have a calming effect and thus a positive impact on our health.
Kindness and physical health
– Set aside a moment in your day for some kind of physical activity to help you get rid of your stress.
– Let go of your drive to perform and focus instead on attainable goals centred on progress rather than perfection.
– Opt for activities that make you feel good. Don’t like running? Why not try brisk walking, or turn your living room into a dance floor?
– Don’t be too rigid about your nutrition. You can allow yourself the occasional treat! What’s most important is to eat a variety of foods in a balanced and mindful way.
– Take some time out of your day to go outside and breathe in the fresh air. Your daily dose of clean air and vitamin D is important.
– Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. A lot goes on while you’re sleeping: your body regenerates itself and your immune system grows stronger. Rest helps maintain your memory as well.
Kindness and mental health
– Pay attention to your feelings, emotions and reactions and give yourself permission to confide in a loved one or a health professional. You don’t have to face all the obstacles in your path alone.
– Learn to respect your limits and to say no without feeling guilty.
– Accept help when it’s offered and learn to delegate. Put some trust in others!
– Have confidence in your abilities. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself.
– Turn negative thoughts about your image and your body into positive ones.
– Take time to be proud of your achievements.
– When you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, take a moment to apply the S.T.O.P. technique: stop and observe your thoughts. This will help you be aware of unhelpful thoughts and prevent them from taking root in your mind.
Kindness and emotional health
– When you experience a negative emotion, be aware of it and stop to identify what it is you’re feeling. Try to find the right word to describe this emotion, accept it, breathe deeply, then let it go.
– When you experience a positive emotion (joy, gratitude, pride, etc.), stop and savour the moment. That way, when you’re going through tough times, you can think back on that feeling and that state of happiness.
– Avoid comparisons. Allow yourself to be your true self, with all of your strengths and weaknesses.
– Master the art of kind, nonviolent communication. Find the words to express your feelings gently and with openness.
– Life is full of the unexpected. Don’t let it get you down! After-all, it’s much easier to swim with the current than against it. Try to keep your thoughts on the here and now, rather than letting the fear of change take over.
– Develop your empathy by listening with kindness and without judgment, by taking interest in the lives of others and by paying close attention to the feelings of the people around you.
– Develop your social interactions, but also your social awareness. This will help you to notice and better understand other people’s feelings and react in ways that are good for all concerned.
Kindness and spiritual health
– Spare some kind thoughts for yourself or for somebody you don’t get along with too well.
– Send positive energy to people who seem unhappy.
– When you read or hear discouraging news, take a moment to feel genuine compassion for the people going through these ordeals.
– Identify what really matters to you: your values, your needs and the meaning you give to your life. Draw on those things, and go back to these priorities when you’re going through a difficult time.
– Meditate or reflect in some way by visualizing inner peace and world peace too.
– When you hear someone speak ill of somebody else, make a point of bringing up one of that person’s good qualities.
– Get involved in your community. Helping others isn’t just a generous thing to do; it can also enhance your well-being.
– Take regular time outs for a few deep breaths to calm your mind, and feel the emotions that well up from your spiritual kindness.
Day-to-day kindness can mean paying attention to the little things and cultivating a mindset that’s open and welcoming toward others. That said, we believe that to be kind to others, you need to be kind to yourself first. If you aren’t being mindful of your own needs, it’s hard to be mindful of the needs of others. On the other hand, if you have good self esteem and are aware if the things you need to do to cultivate your own happiness, being kind to others just comes naturally. Their complexity and emotional intelligence is what makes humans so beautiful. Let’s take care of our feelings instead of fighting and repressing them.