It’s usually the last thing we feel like doing when we are in a bad mood, but it might just be the quickest and most effective at bringing us back up. We’re talking about being nice.

Plenty of research has shown that doing nice things for other people improves our health and wellbeing. It leads to a significant increase in our positive mood (also know as ‘The Helper’s High), makes us happier over time, and reduces anxiety and depression. What’s more – it can even help us live longer! One such study found that volunteering was even more effective than exercising four times a week at reducing early death. Pretty nuts, right?

Here’s what’s happening to our physiology when we are being nice:

  1. Activation of specific regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust.
  2. Oxytocin levels increase. This reduces blood pressure (as it causes the release of nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels), lowers levels of stress hormones, and produces an overall calming effect.
  3. Dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins (‘feel good’ neurotransmitters) are released.
  4. Stress response is lowered.
  5. Immunity improves (as the protective antibodies increase in our blood).

So our challenge to you this week is to do lots of nice things for others and observe how it makes you feel (aka see if you can get high at work…legally)..If you want to add a fun element, order these free kindness cards from the Wake Up Project which inspire anonymous acts of kindness that the receiver must ‘pay forward’.

Here’s some inspiration for your week:

  • Give a genuine compliment to someone.
  • Buy a colleague his/her hot drink of choice when you pop out to collect yours.
  • Let someone merge into your lane when driving.
  • Babysit for your siblings or friends children to give them a night off.
  • Let someone go ahead of you in a queue.
  • Visit family members you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Drive a friend to the airport.