The Kindness Cure for Stress & Pain Relief

Thinking of human evolution, Darwin’s concept of “survival of the fittest” would appear to suggest it’s every man, or woman, for themselves.  Yet the trait of kindness has persisted over many thousands of years, a phenomenon which has captured the attention of research psychologists.
The findings of their investigations are fascinating; it turns out kindness is beneficial to our survival after all, with studies suggesting activities such as volunteering may actually increase the length of our lives, improving health and happiness along the way. Modern brain scans have allowed scientists to observe increased activity in the prefrontal cortex during compassionate emotional states. This is thought to affect brain chemistry, possibly triggering the release of “feel good” chemicals like dopamine and endorphins. Levels of oxytocin, described as a “healing hormone” with a positive effect on stress, are increased by acts of altruism. This in turn reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the body.
These physiological reactions lend credence to the idea that helping others really does help us too. In terms of pain management, stress is believed to have an effect on the perception of pain. When stress is reduced, pain may be experienced less acutely.
According to scientific studies, kindness can produce the following benefits:
• Support the immune system
• Enhance cognitive processes
• Increase energy levels
• Lower the heart rate
• Reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol
• Improved life satisfaction and longevity
• Slows aging due to reduced free radical production
• Practicing kind behaviour has been shown to have a ripple effect, inspiring kindness in others
Take a moment to be kind to someone today, it might make you both feel better!

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