As children most of us are taught to mind our manners and treat others as we would like to be treated; it is, after all, the golden rule. But as we grow up our priorities and responsibilities change — work, mortgages, kids, bills, plus endless streams of chores and errands to juggle. The weight of that alone is enough to make our manners slip. And since we can't expect our parents to follow us around reminding us to behave, it's our personal responsibility to act with respect. This makes the lives of others more pleasant, sets a good example and, in return, improves our health.
It's widely accepted that attitude has an impact on our physical selves, for example:
Sound Mind, Sound Body
Remind participants that small gestures make a mind and body feel good. This boost isn't prideful; it's strictly science. Acts of benevolence trigger our bodies to release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. This rush of endorphins can create a brief sense of elation and a longer-lasting feeling of calmness.
Allan Luks, author of The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others, surveyed 3000 volunteers to discover how good deeds make people feel. The results highlighted an indisputable link between altruism and good health. Survey respondents report euphoria after helping others — a feeling Luks dubbed the "helper's high.”
Increase Kindness — Reduce Stress
As this and other surveys show, mind and body are closely connected. Regular feelings of stress can cause or aggravate conditions such as ulcers, high blood pressure, depression, headaches, insomnia, heart palpitations, and muscle aches. Behind legitimate illness, stress is a main cause of employee absenteeism, finds a survey of HR managers by CCH, Inc., a Chicago research firm.
Dr. Dean Ornish (president and director of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito CA) conducted research on how to repair some of the damage of heart disease. He maintains that, in conjunction with healthy eating habits, less stress lowers cholesterol levels and reduces fatty buildup in the arteries.
Decreasing stress also has a positive impact on patients with diabetes, particularly type 2. Stress raises glucose in the blood by heightening release of the hormones cortisol and epinephrine. With diabetes the body doesn't produce enough insulin (or respond properly to insulin) to process the stress-induced sugar levels.
As your participants become more conscious of kind actions, stress can begin to decline — a change that will benefit their health and your organization.
The Power of Optimism
A kindness campaign that improves the attitude of your participants will have a trickle-down effect on others as well. The positive state of mind that results from kindness can improve or maintain heart health. In fact, a University of Pittsburgh study found that women with an optimistic outlook have less thickening of the carotid arteries. And preliminary research shows attitude may also bolster the immune system. A UCLA study of HIV-positive men concludes optimism is associated with a stronger immune-cell function.
Volunteering, helping others, and exhibiting other acts of kindness can enhance mood — improving overall vitality.
Creating a Kindness Campaign
As a different approach to wellness, a kindness campaign adds variety and interest. The benefits are numerous: more harmonious environment, reduced stress levels, lower absenteeism, and better health. Here are some tips for promoting and implementing a kindness program in your organization.
Promoting Your Program
Activities and Events
The wellness benefits of kindness are far reaching — even little deeds can brighten the recipient's day, but the giver may benefit even more.