Doing good is good for your mental wellness

Doing good is good for your mental wellness

When last did you volunteer for something – whether at work, at home or at school? In a society that idealises individualism, capitalism and self-promotion, there are some fundamental activities that can get ignored, side-lined or downplayed. One of these is volunteering – an activity that covers a multitude of scenarios and can increase general feelings of happiness. 

Whether giving up time for a local charity, running an errand for an elderly neighbour or helping a friend or family member with a chore, doing things that cost you time, skill or money releases varying levels of dopamine into your system. Dopamine is the natural ‘feel good’ chemical that can improve how you feel about yourself, your life and others around you. Volunteering can also help in a number of other ways: 

  • Gets you out the house and into an alternative environment – which can help you see things from a different perspective
  • Meeting new people can lead to new friendships & relationships, increasing a sense of belonging and reducing isolation
  • Doing something new may help you find a new skill or hobby that you didn’t know you would enjoy
  • Participating in outdoor activities can get you moving more, breathing in more fresh air and can increase your vitamin D levels
  • Reduces stress levels and negative feelings towards your work, your life, yourself and others

Another way to naturally increase dopamine in your system is to conduct random acts of kindness (RAOK). This differs from volunteering in that volunteering is what comes from a request by another or by asking if someone would like a specific task to be done. A RAOK is performing a kind activity or speaking a kind word to someone without being asked. 

Either way, both volunteering and RAOK are a great way to improve natural dopamine levels, both in yourself and the person for whom you are performing the tasks or speaking kindly to. 

For those clients feeling stressed, frustrated or depressed, who I’ve recommended a daily dose of 1 RAOK have all anecdotally reported back that they are feeling more positive and a lot better, both about themselves and about those around them. 

Kindness towards others, is in reality also kindness towards yourself and your mental wellness.

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