It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day today, so it’s an opportunity for us all to spread a little goodwill to the people around us. It’s been a tough 11 months filled with anxiety and loneliness, and everyone could use a little more kindness in their lives as we continue to ride out the storm.
Expressing kindness is good for your health as well and is scientifically proven to release oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, which regulate our moods and can positively impact our mental health. Oxytocin creates a stronger bond between people socially, making us friendlier and more generous. Dopamine gifts us with a little euphoria and makes us happier, and so does serotonin, which also stabilizes our emotions.
When you bring a little sunshine to others on Random Acts of Kindness Day this year, you’ll be doing good not only for them but for yourself too. Here are eight ideas out of many for paying it forward.
When you bring a little sunshine to others on Random Acts of Kindness Day this year, you’ll be doing good not only for them but for yourself too.
Help a Neighbor
Not everyone can get to the grocery store or run errands safely, either due to safety risks, lack of transport, or illness. If there’s someone like this around you, inquire about their needs and offer your assistance. If it’s someone who can’t get to the store, offer to shop on their behalf. If someone is having a little financial trouble, share a meal or two with them. Or maybe it snows one day and you have an elderly neighbor. Clear the snow from their walkway and driveway so they can get in and out of the house safely. Opportunities to help exist, you just have to do a little looking.
Send a Friend a Care Package
If you’re like me and many others, and you haven’t been able to get together with your friends because of the pandemic, you can let them know that they’re on your mind by sending them a lovely package. Depending on what they need, you can put together a box of stuff that is sure to put a smile on their face when they open it up. If they’ve complained about feeling stressed out, send face masks, an aromatic candle, a cozy robe, and other items for a spa day. If they love to read, send a few of the season’s must-reads. Or just send a nice note about how much you miss them.
Pay For the Person Behind You at the Drive-thru
Surprises are always great, no matter how big or small they are. If you’ve ever driven up to the cashier window at the drive-thru, card in hand, only to discover that your bill has been taken care of, you know this is true. It’s a small action that can affect the outcome of the rest of your day. Paying for a coffee or a breakfast sandwich can completely change what started out as a bad day for someone you don’t know, to one that’s slowly getting better.
Order Someone a Meal
Sometimes the best remedy for a less-than-perfect day is your favorite comfort food. Picture this: You’ve had a crappy day at work, you’re tired and hungry, but the last thing you want to do is figure out what to make for dinner. Just then, you get a text asking you to check your doorstep, and when you open the door, there’s a relatively hot container of your favorite meal waiting for you. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like heaven to me. That simple act of kindness from someone would remind me that I am loved and cared for, making me feel a little less alone in the world.
Appreciate Your Delivery People & Postal Workers
Unsafe conditions outside and mandated lockdowns have increased the need for delivery workers, making them absolutely essential to our survival. They’re out there every day, doing their best to bring us everything from groceries and prescriptions to meals to satisfy our fast-food cravings. It’s vital to recognize the risk that these people are putting themselves through as they toil to make a living and provide us with what we need.
You might not be able to do much to lighten their load, but you could demonstrate your appreciation by tipping where applicable and perhaps leaving individually wrapped packages of snacks and drinks for them to collect safely when they drop off your packages.
Donate to a Food Bank
You might have access to enough food whenever you need it, but not everyone does. Food banks are an important resource for many, with one in six people facing food insecurity as of November 2020. Food banks get groceries to people who need them, and can always use as much as people are willing to donate. You can find your local food bank here, along with information about how to give back.
Patronize Local Business
Small business owners have been negatively impacted by the pandemic ever since things shut down in March, and those that have managed to hold on are floundering. Dine-in bans and lockdowns have dried up their streams of income, leaving them struggling under the weight of bills and employee salaries. Whenever you can, give your local businesses the gift of your patronage. It might not solve all of their financial problems, but it might give them the hope to fight for one more day.
Reach Out to Someone Who Is Socially Isolated
Social isolation and loneliness are very important public health issues. They contribute heavily to negative health outcomes both physically and mentally. This is especially true for older adults, increasing their risk for dementia, hospitalization, and elevated rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. Reach out to anyone you know who has been isolating on their own, especially if they are above 45. You might also be able to find programs to which you can contribute your time, volunteering to check in on individuals who need the comfort of human contact, even if it’s over Facetime.
Hopefully, this little mission on this one awareness day galvanizes you to intentionally find ways to help the people around you whenever you can. When you show someone kindness, they may be inspired to do the same for others, creating a global movement of true empathy that makes our world a little better every day.