3 Reasons for Kindness

kindness-women-huggingSomeone asked me last week why I recommended doing an act of kindness to help with anxiety on election day 2020 in the United States. I had several reasons but these are the Top 3.

1.  It takes your focus off of you and your anxiety and onto someone or something else. When you think about yourself less, then typically anxiety as well as depression fade into the background for a bit.

2.  Kindness brings people together. When you’re kind to someone, you’re thinking of them and what would feel good to them. Dr. Jill Biden says this about kindness, “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding and with small acts of kindness, with bravery, with unwavering faith.”

3.  Kindness makes you feel good about yourself. Anxiety and depression are both rooted in not so good feelings about yourself, carrying with them a sense of shame about things you should have done or should be doing. Kindness bypasses these feelings and lets you glimpse even a brief period of feeling good.

There are whole “therapies” based on service and volunteering which are essentially, acts of kindness. Consider this study which concluded, “Cohort studies showed volunteering had favourable effects on depression, life satisfaction, wellbeing, but not on physical health.”  If you’ve ever volunteered for anything, you know that how it feels can vary pretty significantly.

I’m in a huge county in South Florida and at one point both my kids and I were volunteering through a county agency. We would sign up for an activity and show up ready to help. But there were way too many people there and not enough organization. My girls would end up sitting around, feeling frustrated, not knowing what to do! That’s pretty much the opposite of what I was trying to teach them.

Instead, we decided to choose a couple of organizations and volunteer directly with them. Tomorrow’s Rainbow, which provides free grief support to children who have lost a parent with equine therapy (mainly with miniature ponies!), is a wonderful organization. If you’re reading this during the time of covid, it’s also outdoors!

Another excellent organization is Feeding South Florida. This is part of a larger organization of Feeding Florida so whether you’re in Orlando or Fort Lauderdale, you can volunteer to help feed families. You can sort food or put together packages or hand out or deliver food. They also have administrative tasks that you can help with.

If you’re not feeling good and want to feel better, look for somewhere to volunteer! It’s an absolutely free way to help yourself feel better.

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Yours in health,
Dr. Liz