We all know being kind and compassionate is a lovely thing to do. But what has that got to do with anxiety?
In recent years, there has been a lot of research around this topic and it turns out that kindness and compassion increase the happy chemicals dopamine and serotonin – both implicated in anxiety.
The thing that may surprise you is that it’s not only about others being kind and compassionate towards you that is important for your mood. It has also been shown that by giving kindness and even witnessing kindness, it can also improve your anxiety1 .
This all makes sense – if someone is kind to you, it will make you feel better; if you are kind to someone, it not only helps the other person, but you feel good about it too. And if you see someone else giving kindness or showing compassion, it gives you a bit of warm, fuzzy feeling.
Have you considered, though, that you also need to show some self-compassion? Usually people with anxiety are very self-critical. They often find it easy to be kind to others, but come down hard on themselves. Being self-critical will actually add to your anxious feelings2, so it’s necessary to be aware of what you say to yourself.
We can’t control when others are kind to us, but we can certainly do something about being kind to others. Even if you are generally a kind person, you can be more intentional about being kind to someone everyday in order to help increase your happy chemicals and therefore helping to reduce your anxiety.
Witnessing kindness is another one that is hard to predict when it will actually happen. But one suggestion for this is to search on the internet for ‘Random Acts of Kindness’. I love watching clips of people doing random, kind things to others and seeing the recipients reaction – it gives me an overflow of the warm and fuzzies!
And how are you going with self-compassion? Just check in with your thoughts about yourself today. Are you being unkind or harsh to yourself? Let’s turn this around and start to be kind to you, giving yourself some credit instead of just negative feedback.
I will leave you with these words from the Bible: “Be kind and merciful and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ” Ephesians 4:32 (CEV).