Things I learned recently:
April is National Stress Awareness month in the US.
The American Institute of Stress is a thing that exists.
Things I already knew:
Around 80% of visits to primary care physicians are for some stress-related issue.
The life expectancy in the US is declining.
You guys – we are a SERIOUSLY stressed nation!
What does kindness have to do with any of that? Much more than you might think.
There are lots and lots of studies about the impact on kindness and stress. If you geek out on that stuff like I do, Google “kindness and stress”and prepare to read!
For my bullet point loving friends (also me), here’s some of the good info:
- Stress is often correlated with depression and kindness is protective toward depression.
- When you practice random acts of kindness, you feel good (they’ve been shown to activate the pleasure center of your brain) and that reduces stress.
- What you focus on expands, so when you look for kindness in the world, you’ll naturally see more of it and less of the stressful stuff.
- The practice of loving kindness meditation has been shown to reduce emotional and physical pain.
There are tons of other things that help stress that might be great to incorporate into your self-kindness practices. Things like aromatherapy with lavender or lemon, moderate exercise, time in nature, and possibly most importantly, connection. Having a close, small, personal group that you can reach out to is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Think of your phone a friend folks – those are the relationships to nurture. In fact, the more you nurture them, the lower your stress levels are likely to be.
As you wind down April, consider your own stress level. Do you feel like it’s well managed? Have you ever used kindness to reduce your stress? What are some stress reducing self-kindness practices you can incorporate into your daily life? Think small – make whatever you decide to do as simple as possible and you’ll be much more likely to stick with it and see a long-term positive impact.