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The Mental and Physical Benefits of Kindness

Many recovery programs focus on overcoming addiction and alcoholism by living a spiritual life of altruism and helping others. 12-Step recovery, for example, suggests sponsorship and carrying the message of recovery to those still struggling with addiction and alcoholism. Any act of kindness we perform, or even simply witnessing acts of kindness, can have positive mental and physical health benefits.

Research into kindness shows that it may have dramatic impacts on our physical health. According to the Positive Psychlopedia’s article The Benefits of Kindness, “Kindness strengthens our immune system, reduces aches and pains, improves our cardiovascular profile, and boosts energy and strength in elderly people. In a 2006 study, the most loving and kind couples were shown to have the lowest levels of atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries). Various studies in the past 15 years have shown that regular volunteers have better health and (among the elderly and those with HIV/AIDS) a lower mortality rate.” Acts of kindness may also be effective in lowering blood pressure, increasing energy and motivation, and increasing production of oxytocin and serotonin in the brain.

The effects of kindness on mental health are no less dramatic. People who act with kindness produce 23% less cortisol, commonly referred to as the “stress hormone,” and may be effective in reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. Dr. David R. Hamilton, in a 2011 Huffington Pot article entitled 5 Beneficial Side Effects of Kindness, explains, “When we do something kind for someone else, we feel good. On a spiritual level, many people feel that this is because it is the right thing to do and so we’re tapping into something deep and profound inside us that says, ‘This is who I am.’ On a biochemical level, it is believed that the good feeling we get is due to elevated levels of the brain’s natural versions of morphine and heroin, which we know as endogenous opioids. They cause elevated levels of dopamine in the brain, so we get a natural high, often referred to as ‘Helper’s High.’” Acts of kindness can improve our overall mental and physical health in such a way that the simple act of turning our attention to helping another person can make for an easier and more fulfilling journey of recovery.

Your life doesn’t have to be one of hopelessness and depression as a result of addiction. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future in sobriety. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, is staffed with caring and compassionate professionals who understand the toll addiction can take on the mind, body, and spirit, and are dedicated to providing clients all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain lasting sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431