If you’re feeling a little down, there are tried and true methods of self-care: quality sleep, healthy diet and exercise. But there’s one other proven tactic that people often ignore: acts of kindness.
Finding a way to inject some good into the global melting pot is a great way to get a quick pick me up. We often tend to just focus on ourselves as a path to happiness: our own fitness, our own mindfulness, or our own success at work. But by making ourselves the sole focus, we miss out on the positive benefits of helping someone else.
Helping those around you can change your outlook and improve your overall mood. A simple act of kindness, such as giving up your seat up on public transport, holding the door for someone or even paying for someone’s coffee can be just the unexpected tonic you’re looking for.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside says, “People who engage in kind acts become happier over time,” because “when you’re kind to others, you feel good as a person—more moral, optimistic, and positive.”
When you do good, you feel good
Acts of kindness can take place in your community through local initiatives, or you can spread your goodwill even further by participating in organisations with a global reach. Just as with an act of kindness, making a donation has a similar mood-boosting effect. By donating regularly to a charity you feel connected to, you can harness those positive feelings on a more long-term basis.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “during gift-giving behaviours, humans secrete “feel good” chemicals in our brains, such as serotonin (a mood-mediating chemical), dopamine (a feel-good chemical) and oxytocin (a compassion and bonding chemical).”
If you want access to this healthy cocktail, making a regular donation to charity is a one way you could get a taste. But what if you don’t have a lot of money to donate? Can small donations really make a difference?
According to thelifeyoucansave.org, even small donations have the potential to drastically improve an individual’s quality of life. People often conclude there’s nothing they can do when they consider poverty in the developing world, but the reality is completely different.
With the right organisation, your dollars go farther, and this should make you feel even better about your decision to give back.
A little goes a long way
The Fred Hollows Foundation is a perfect example of a little going a long way – for just $25 you can help restore someone’s sight. Blindness in disadvantaged regions can often lead to a life or death situation. So while it may seem that you’re just helping to save someone’s sight, you’re often helping to save their life.
There you have it: a short and sweet answer to a low mood. Want a pick-me-up? Then just look outside yourself and do something for someone else. Whether it’s through a random act of kindness, volunteer work or a charitable donation – it may surprise you how good it feels to help out a fellow human.
The Fred Hollows Foundation tackles avoidable blindness across the world. Consistently named one of Australia’s Top 5 Reputable Charities, you can find out more about The Fred Hollows Foundation or donate here.