Feeling down? The unexpected pick me up…

9 June 2017

As many of us await the start of the ever-unpredictable British summer, you’re probably feeling the need for a proper break and some time away from the stresses of the daily grind.

If you’re feeling a little tired or de-motivated, there’s always the tried and true methods of self-care: sleep, diet, exercise. But there’s one other proven tactic that people often ignore: acts of kindness.

Change your outlook

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 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 others.

Helping those around you can change your outlook and improve your mood. A simple act of kindness, such as giving up your seat up on public transport 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. When you’re kind to others, you feel good as a person—more moral, optimistic, and positive.”

When you do good, you feel good

You can engage in acts of kindness in your community through local initiatives, or 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).”

Kindness in the future

Whether you’re young or old, making a Will is something that will protect your assets and ensure that things are handled exactly the way you want. It’s not always the most pleasant thing to think about, but a lot of people have the incredible power of being able to leave something behind that will help others.

We all want to make sure friends, family and loved ones are looked after, but the altruism of including a charity in your Will is a way of ‘future’ giving. And knowing that you’ll leave something so useful behind for others is another way to bring more kindness to the world in the future– and a sense of happiness right now.

A little goes a long way

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 gift in your Will – it may surprise you how good it feels to help out a fellow human.

Esha Thaper, The Fred Hollows Foundation

A non-profit that aims to reduce avoidable blindness around the world.