YMCA Healthy Living Magazine Spring 2020 - Page 13

FIONA KRIARIS Fiona Kriaris is a health and fitness professional with YMCA Victoria . She is pioneering mindfulness and meditation at the YMCA , to bring a more holistic approach to health and fitness .


How you can boost the wellbeing of others .
When was the last time you held the door open for a stranger ? Or let someone go in front of you in line ? These ‘ Random Acts of Kindness ’, where we are kind to others without expecting something in return , have become universal . The Kindness Movement is a powerful global phenomenon cultivated by such simple gifts of kindness that everyone can afford to give . Kindness is often mistaken as being nice or polite , however , it has far more depth than social etiquette . As per the Cambridge definition , “ Kindness is the quality of being generous , helpful , and caring about other people , or an act showing this quality ”. While kindness can be overlooked as a quality that we inherently possess , it is something we must practice consistently in order to reap its lasting effects . By making a conscious effort to practice kindness , it can have illuminating benefits on the wellbeing for oneself and others , while also creating a harmonious connected community . symbiotic relationship between the providers and receivers of kindness . Our kindness not only serves to fuel us , but also consequently has an on-flow effect to the recipients , as they feel loved and valued . Kindness is the glue that strengthens relationships between people as it builds mutual respect , collaboration and trust . This wave of kindness has a ripple effect creating meaningful community connection . These lasting benefits can only be achieved through the regular practice of kindness , but where do we begin ? With self-kindness .
Being kind to ourselves allows us to turn up in this world with greater capacity to give acts of kindness to others . These gestures of self-kindness can be small , such as being more tolerant , loving and nurturing with your thoughts about yourself and letting go of self-criticism . It is as simple as accepting and treating yourself as you would a good friend . This very practice of self-kindness requires repetition so it transforms into a habit . A good place to start is to journal your experience about your selfkindness and the acts of kindness you give to others .


Research reveals that kindness boosts wellbeing . Acts of kindness change the brain chemistry through the release of oxytocin : a hormone which can reduce blood pressure , improve overall heart health and increase self-esteem and optimism . Oxytocin is a ‘ feel-good ’ chemical that also enhances a calming feeling which is a great antidote to stress . People who are more kind have 23 % less cortisol ( the stress hormone ) and age slower than the average population . Another advantage of kindness is that it can increase the feeling of strength and energy due to the “ helpers high ” that it elicits through the release of the chemical dopamine .
Now let ’ s consider the impact on those receiving kindness . There is a beautiful