I’ve been fighting off a cold over the last couple of days, and I happened to listen to a podcast episode of “Feel Better Live More” where Dr. Chatterjee and Dr. David Hamilton were talking about how for our bodies, the opposite of stress is not “peace” but rather “kindness.”
They do a much more thorough job explaining what happens in our bodies with kindness (and they have delightful British and Scottish accents, so you should really listen!), but I'll paraphrase here:
Kindness releases oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins which:
-strengthens your immune system
-lowers your blood pressure
-dilate your blood vessels so your heart gets more oxygen
-improves your energy
-reduces aches and pains
-can lead to a longer lifespan.
Oxytocin is released when we:
GIVE acts of kindness,
RECEIVE acts of kindness,
or even simply WITNESS acts of kindness.
So a get-well card could help boost someone's immune system so they get well faster!
The doctors point out in the podcast episode, kindnesses have ripple effects. A person who has been the recipient of kindness is likely to treat 5 people more kindly that day, and those 5 people will choose to be kinder to 5 people in THEIR day. So one kind thing could result in 125 kind things (or more!)
As winter comes, and our immune systems struggle with colds, how can we take care of each other?
Maybe chicken soup is helpful for illness because of the LOVE that goes into it.
Dr. Chatterjee suggested an exercise of answering the same question every evening: What was one kind thing you did today?
I’d love to gather our own Tiny and Snail list of kindnesses, so we can all feel more inspired this week.
I’ll start with three of my own, and if you feel like playing along, comment on this post with a list of your own 3 kindnesses.
An act of kindness you gave:
I practice comfort with my daughter Ellie daily. I’ve been learning about various calming techniques such as breathing calmly through the nose and petting the upper back and shoulders. When she is upset, I try to practice and teach her these techniques to help her calm down.
An act of kindness you received:
Kelsey (my husband) made a big salad yesterday for us to eat over the next few days. He takes time to cook quite often for us, and works hard at our land to provide us with our own eggs and beef.
An act of kindness you witnessed:
Ellie was watching a video of herself as a baby recently, and she was engaging with the baby. Saying things like “It’s okay, mommy’s here.” It made my heart melt.
As a side note: Cards are a quick tool to harness the power of the mind. They help us focus our attention on someone else (empathy), and they help us dwell in gratitude for that person. A card is a great way to practice kindness, so I hope you take a few minutes to write one or two this week. (If you want to share how a card made your day, or write about it as the kindness you gave, I'd love to hear about it!)
Let’s compile a list and see how long we can make it. If just witnessing acts of kindness can give us an immune boost, I might be able to get rid of this cold really fast! :)
Feel free to copy and paste these:
- An act of kindness you gave:
- An act of kindness you received:
- An act of kindness you witnessed:
(Small details when you’re writing help create a scene that has a greater effect on our brains, so be sure to add a few details!)