The Science of Kindness
Feb 13, 2019 Cedars-Sinai Staff
The warm feeling of wellbeing that washes over you when you've done something kind isn't just in your head.
It's in your brain chemicals, too.
Acts of kindness can release hormones that contribute to your mood and overall wellbeing. The practice is so effective it's being formally incorporated into some types of psychotherapy.
Kindness is chemical
"We're building better selves and better communities at the same time."
Kindness as a treatment for pain, depression, and anxiety
What we know about the science behind acts of kindness is influencing how we treat certain health conditions, Dr. IsHak says.
- Studies are investigating if oxytocin can be beneficial in treating some conditions. The hormone is a protein and cannot simply be taken as a pill. It's being studied in injection and nasal spray forms.
- Mindfulness-based therapy is becoming increasingly popular for treating depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. The therapy is built on mindfulness meditation, documenting your gratitude, and acts of kindness. People being treated in a mindfulness-based therapy program incorporate acts of kindness into their daily routines.
- Helping others is also believed to increase levels of an endorphin-like chemical in the body called substance P, which can relieve pain, Dr. IsHak says.