The Science of Kindness
When you are feeling down or suffering from depression it can be so hard to see past that singular feeling. Everything you see has the downward slant of sadness. There are many different ways to treat depression, from antidepressant medication to all natural herbal alternatives to a change of lifestyle. Today we are focusing on that last point. In the past few years more and more studies are being done on how your brain responds to certain actions of kindness, thinking positively, making goals, and exercise. Serotonin is a key component when looking at how to overcome depression. Studies have found that serotonin is released when we think about past achievements or victories, spend time in the sunlight and act altruistically.
We have all probably had that feeling before. When you help out a stranger, when you show your gratitude, when you volunteer to help those less fortunate than yourself and you experience that feeling of happiness. And when you are suffering from depression these feelings of happiness can be fleeting. But studies have shown that an emphasis on helping others, thinking optimistically and meditation on good things can not only allow you to experience that happy feeling that also can help usher a lifting from a state of depression. In fact, not only do the people doing the acts of kindness experience a serotonin rush, but so the the recipients and the witness of the act of kindness.
Dr. Sonja Lyumbosirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside says that it is important for each person to find out what will work best for them through trial and error. Spend some significant time thinking through how they can help others and remind themselves of good things in their lives. “You have to do work,” Lyubomirsky said. “It takes effort to continually remind yourself to do acts of kindness for others, although I think it gets easier over time.”