The Christmas Season & Stress
For some, the festive season is the most anticipated time of the year; however, for others, just the thought of Christmas sends their stress levels sky-high.
Whether you love it or not, Christmas brings some inevitable stress, whether it is worrying about sticking to your Christmas budget, being around difficult family members, feeling pressured to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas, or simply having your routine disrupted. In fact, these factors have led to many considering Christmas one of the most stressful events.
As a result, it is particularly important to look after your own wellbeing and mental health at Christmas by helping manage and reduce the impact of festive stress. Many people feel they don’t have the time or the money to carry out self-care during the festive period; however, research has discovered an easy, free, and effective stress management technique that most of us already do at Christmas – simply, the Act of Kindness.
Acts of Kindness
The Australian Kindness Movement defines an Act of Kindness as “a spontaneous gesture of goodwill towards someone or something”.
With the ‘festive spirit’ encouraging an attitude of generosity and care for others, kindness and Christmas are often seen as one and the same; however, what research has found is that your Christmas kindness can significantly reduce your stress levels, both physically and mentally benefitting yourself and others around you.
Multiple studies have discovered that being kind to others not only makes the recipient feel good, it can actually improve the giver’s stress levels, mental health, emotional wellbeing, and physical health. In addition, acts of kindness have be found to be infectious in communities and result in a kindness chain reaction.
How Does It Work?
Neurobiological studies have found that, when a human being performs an act of kindness, the brain produces the neurochemicals known as the ‘Happiness Trifecta’: Oxytocin, Dopamine, and Serotonin. These neurochemicals send happiness boosts around our body.
Not only does it feel good, the release of these hormones balances your serotonin levels, lowers your blood pressure and cortisol levels, and blocks pain signals to the brain. This can improve cardiac health, circulation, and digestive health, decrease symptoms of depression and stress, and even increase life expectancy.
Watch TEDTalk “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over” by Mel Robbins.
Benefits of Kindness
The many benefits of acts of kindness can be summarised into physical, psychological, and social benefits.
In addition to increased life expectancy, acts of kindness can strengthened your immune system, improve cognitive performance, increase your energy levels, and lower your heart rate.
Acts of kindness can decrease feelings of loneliness, depression, and helplessness, increase your sense of calm and relaxation, improve your vitality, and help you manage depression and anxiety. In addition, it can help you create a ‘kindness bank’ of memories that can be used to boost self-esteem and increase resilience levels.
Acts of kindness also have positive affects on others. Recipients of kindness often feel happy, valued, and loved, and can lead to others following suit and being kind to others in return. Acts can also improve social relationships, increase the sense of connection, and contributes to positive communities.
12 Christmas Acts of Kindness
In the spirit of Christmas, we have provided 12 Acts of Kindness ideas to help get you started:
Before You Start
It is really important to pause before you start carrying out Acts of Kindness and consider the following.
Do Something you Enjoy
Make sure that you carry out Acts of Kindness that align with your interests to make them more fun and more achievable for you. For example, if you hate shopping maybe don’t volunteer to shop for a friend. Instead, you might decide to treat the family to a movie night.
Remember Acts of Kindness don’t have to be grand gestures or expensive – simple acts such as a smile are the easiest and sometimes most powerful acts of kindness.
Give Within your Means
Acts of Kindness can deplete energy, time and sometimes money. Make sure you don’t overdo it, be careful not to provide more than you can give to avoid burnout and stress.
Be Kind to Yourself
Most importantly, remember that you deserve kindness too! Try to carry out acts of kindness for yourself over Christmas and remember to not expect too much of yourself.
P: 1300 364 273 | Text or Live Chat: 0401 337 711 | W: acaciaconnection.com