Blog written for Bloomfield Harris Workplace Wellbeing published 13 February 2019.
17th February is Random Acts of Kindness day, in this week’s blog post we will look at why being kind is good for us, a brilliant example of sponsoring kindness and ways to incorporate more kindness into our lives.
Why being kind is good for us
Random Acts of Kindness (non-profit US organisation) identify the following benefits of being kind: see their post for more info.
Researchers across the globe have studied fascinating scenarios to investigate how kindness effects us. So far they’ve found that when we are kind our bodies release the hormone oxytocin; this helps us to form lasting relationships with others and has been shown to help lower blood pressure.
Our brains also release serotonin and dopamine both of which are rewarding to us. Serotonin has many effects such as calming the brain (it is one way of treating anxiety and depression) it also helps our memory. Dopamine is linked to our reward and pleasure centres, it is activated when we experience something pleasurable and makes us want to repeat the behaviour. For example when you drink a cup of coffee or eat chocolate you will get an increase in dopamine.
Researchers have also found participants were happier, calmer, had more energy, and felt less depressed and stressed. In one study participants had 23% less cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone which if it remains high can lead to cardiovascular problems and negatively effects our immune systems.
Although some researchers have questioned the strength of the effects of kindness there is no doubt pro-social behaviour is good for society. Their research highlights the need for thorough high quality research and more specific research questions. For example, does the relationship with the recipient effect the impact of kindness on ourselves.
Kindness at Work
In the workplace there are many obvious reasons why being kind is beneficial. It fosters a supportive environment, the oxytocin will assist your team in bonding and forming positive relationships. Happier less stressed, more healthy and energetic employees will lead to less absence and contribute to a positive environment. Researchers have also found that starting with a few acts of kindness will lead to additional acts being carried out, there is a ripple effect which not only will benefit employees but clients and your business reputation.
Chancellor et al. (2018) conducted a workplace based study where participants either gave an act of kindness, received kindness or were a control. After four weeks the givers and receivers both felt more competent and autonomous. After two months the receivers were happier, and givers were more satisfied at work, in life and felt less depressed.
The receivers also went on to give acts of kindness to others, 278% more than the controls!
Sunshine People is a charity with a different approach, everyone can get involved because you don’t need money. Instead the charity is all about being kind.
All you need to do is give an act of kindness to sponsor the particular event taking place.
For this year’s event Nahla Summers, charity founder, author, emotional intelligence expert and coach, will be walking from Swanage to Gretna Green covering 500 miles. She will be stopping along the way to give talks and workshops in schools on kindness and emotional intelligence.
To help her keep going for the 6 week journey you can sponsor her with an act of kindness or you can join her and walk a mile. See details of locations here, click on the events tab. She is hoping to raise 500 acts of kindness so please support her journey!
How can you introduce more kindness in your workplace?
Think of three things you can do tomorrow that will benefit people you work with. It could be as simple as offering to make a cup of tea, showing someone how to do a task or lending a book.
Here’s some more ideas:
Do you have a culture of kindness?
If you’d like to make your workplace kinder and more productive get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org