Seasonal affective disorder or the winter blues can turn your world topsy-turvy as depressive episodes can result in lethargy, oversleeping, eating too much, and feelings of extreme sadness. Typically, people who suffer from SAD find beating the winter blues to be a monumental task. There are a number of treatment options for the winter blues, but some of these are costly, while others require a significant effort – who wants to go out running in the freezing cold? Luckily, there are a number of easy solutions that help lessen the incidence of depression. Practicing random acts of kindness is one of these easy wins which doesn’t require a huge effort and can help improve your mood instantly.
Looking Outside of One’s Self
Practitioners and psychologists suggest that people suffering from a depression disorder make it a point to practice kindness. According to experts in the field, looking outside one’s self and considering the feelings or struggles of others lifts any kind of darkness in the wintertime.
Research supports practicing kindness as the behavior results in less stress, fewer depressive episodes, and less self-centeredness. When you extend yourself to others then, you are reaching beyond what is troubling you or what is making you feel down or blue. Using this “therapeutic” approach can result in one of a number of behaviors . For example, practicing kindness may include:
- Holding the door open for people;
- Thanking people for their assistance;
- Asking co-workers how they are; or
- Wishing people a good day, whether in an email or in person.
A Very Small Yet Significant Activity
A random act of kindness then can be a very small yet significant activity. Therefore, the benefits of the act itself can be very big. Scientists have found that when a person practices kindness, a chemical, called oxytocin, is released in the brain. This same hormone is produced whenever you hug a friend or a member in your family. Therefore, the chemical is responsible for creating positive bonds and encouraging the formation of healthy relationships.
Practicing random acts of kindness increases happiness as well. Participants in a study who were instructed to perform a daily act of kindness during 10 days experienced a significant boost in happiness. Another study asked people to recall a time when they bought something for themselves and when they bought something for someone else. People in general felt happier when they were asked to remember a time they bought something for someone else—even happier than when they remembered buying something for themselves. Research studies suggest that people with giving natures are much happier than people who regularly receive help from others. Giving causes depressed people to forget some of the feelings associated with the illness, such as fear, resentment, anger, or nervousness.
You Don’t Have to Exert A Lot of Energy in Order to be Kind
Random acts of kindness, regardless how small then, lessen stress and improve one’s self-esteem, all which reduce depression and anxiety. Because practicing kindness is good for all the parties involved, you and those around you will tend to feel calmer and happier as well. While winter depression may cause you to feel too demotivated to exercise or enjoy an evening out, you can always find the energy to be kind or simply thank a friend or acquaintance for their help.
Practice One Small Kind Act Each Day to Get into a Better Mood
So, if you want to cure the winter blues and do something good for others as well as yourself, take time to practice kindness or one small, kind act each day. It’s a behavior that can have a far-reaching effect in curing depression as well as reducing anxiety. If you want to fight off the debilitating effects of stress and depression, get into the habit of practicing random acts of kindness. The key to happiness is found in a kindly attitude. Change your attitude and you’ll see an upward shift in your overall mood.
What’s your random act of kindness for today? Share it in the comments below!