Did you know that November is the month that both World Kindness Day (13th) & Stress Awareness Day (Nov. 1st) occur in? People of all ages often suffer from physical and mental strain that stress can place on the body. However, chronic stress has proven to be most harmful to seniors, as it can cause inflammation that drastically lowers the aging population’s immune system defenses that protect their minds and bodies from diseases like diabetes, cancer, and dementia. This is why seniors are highly encouraged to find physical and emotional outlets through exercise, social opportunities, and meaningful activities and interests that play a role in reducing their stress levels.
Interestingly, performing small acts of kindness has also been proven to help lower one’s stress levels. Those “practice random acts of kindness” bumper stickers may be preaching even more wisdom than we realized. “The take-home message is that when we are stressed and we help others, we can also end up helping ourselves,” says study author Emily Ansell, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. Ansell’s study illustrated that people who perform at least one to two random acts kindness per day saw a measurable benefit to their overall wellbeing compared to those who did not.
A lot of the time, we find that our daily stress goes up with the approach of the holiday season, as it often means juggling additional responsibilities like hosting/attending parties and purchasing gifts. Ansell says that combating that stress with kindness will help you maintain balance during the season of giving. Courtney Bartholomew, Executive Director of Vista Shores Assisted Living & Memory Care in New Orleans, agrees, stating that during the holidays, her entire community, from residents to team members and loved ones, participates in a Food Drive for the local Food Bank. “It helps us to enjoy our own holiday season much more when we know that something as simple as collecting some canned food items and delivering them to the Food Bank is giving those in need the opportunity to enjoy their holiday season as well,” says Bartholomew. “We appreciate our own blessings all the more by blessing others.”
Acts of kindness don’t need to be big or dramatic to have an impact, which means they are an easily attainable goal for everyone to work into their day. “It can be as simple as complimenting someone or holding a door or an elevator for them,” says Ansell. As the holidays approach, remember the reason for the season, and make a conscious effort to be kind- your own stress levels will thank you!
SOURCE: Association for Psychological Science