The Science

When you volunteer, or do an intentional act of kindness for someone else, you make an impact – both on them and on you! There is great research to support the effects doing good has on our mental wellness. We have collected some of that research here. This is just some of the science that supports our work and outlines why it’s so beneficial to do good things for others. We call that practicing kindfulness. No matter how you do it, get out there and do good…because science.

Videos

Research

Brain Science

Meaningful Activities (like kindfulness!) Protect the Brain from Depression. A new study of adolescents found that those who derive joy from selfless deeds were less likely to be depressed over time. 

Impact of Volunteering on Physical and Emotional Health & Well‐Being: Volunteering appears to have a powerful impact on the six signs of personal wellness, with those who participate in volunteering activities reporting higher levels of life satisfaction, sense of control over life and feeling physically and emotionally healthier. 

Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression.

The findings revealed participants who performed acts of kindness, whether for the world or for others, were more likely to report feeling happy or to experience improvement in their mood than were the control group and those who were kind to themselves.

A systematic review and meta-analysis led by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in England found that volunteers reported lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.

Performing random acts of kindness helps boost your psychological health by releasing dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain. Giving produces endorphins in the brain. (Nelson KS, Layous K, Cole SW et al.)

94% of people who volunteered in the past 12 months say that volunteering improves their mood. (United Healthcare Study)

When you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper’s high.” (Emory University)

80% of people who have volunteering in the past 12 months say they have control over their mental health. (United Healthcare Study)

Volunteering

Research now proves that sharing your time with others for a good cause can improve your overall happiness and mental well-being.

Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression.

“Volunteering is a pathway through which you can increase brain activity” (Michelle Carlson, Johns Hopkins University.) 

Volunteering has long been a common ethic in the United States, with people each year giving their time without any expectation of compensation. While these volunteer activities may be performed with the core intention of helping others, there is also a common wisdom that those who give of themselves also receive. Researchers have attempted to measure the benefits that volunteers receive, including the positive feeling referred to as “helper’s high,” increased trust in others, and increased social and political participation.

Volunteering should be promoted by public health, education and policy practitioners as a kind of healthy lifestyle, especially for the social subgroups of elders, ethnic minorities, those with little education, single people, and unemployed people, who generally have poorer health and less participation in volunteering.

Research published today by Citizens Advice Bureau indicates that volunteering boosts self-esteem, employabilty and health – especially mental health. 

Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It’s Good to be Good by Stephen G. Post.

94% of people who volunteered in the past 12 months say that volunteering improves their mood. (United Healthcare Study)

80% of people who volunteered in the past 12 months say they have control over their mental health. (United Healthcare Study)

A systematic review and meta-analysis led by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in England found that volunteers reported lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.

This study examined similarities and differences between persons with and without disabilities on volunteering, donations and group participation.

(1) Volunteering among senior citizens improves their mental well-being; (2) Few previous studies reported volunteering improves physical health such as protection for mortality and incidence of disability, compared to mental well-being.

Adults 50+ who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. (Carnegie Mellon study)

Kindfulness

There Are Scientifically Proven Benefits of Being Kind (RandomActsofKindness.org – The Science of Being Kind)  

Well-being has been found to be elevated when individuals are better able to sustain positive emotion; recover more quickly from negative experiences; engage in empathic and altruistic acts; and express high levels of mindfulness. (Eric S. Kim, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)

Meaningful Activities Protect the Brain from Depression. A new study of adolescents found that those who derive joy from selfless deeds were less likely to be depressed over time. 

The findings revealed participants who performed acts of kindness, whether for the world or for others, were more likely to report feeling happy or to experience improvement in their mood than were the control group and those who were kind to themselves. (Source: Nelson KS, Layous K, Cole SW et al)

How kindness improves your life and how it can decrease negative aspects of it. 

Research reveals that doing good deeds, or kind acts, can make socially-anxious people feel better. For four weeks, the University of British Columbia researchers assigned people with high levels of anxiety to do kind acts for other people at least six times a week.

Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It’s Good to be Good by Stephen G. Post.

Practicing kindness produces a 23 percent reduction in cortisol which is a stress hormone that occurs naturally within the body. People dealing with depression tend to have higher levels of this stress hormone. (Weng et al. [2013])

Performing random acts of kindness helps boost your psychological health by releasing dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain. Giving produces endorphins in the brain. (Nelson KS, Layous K, Cole SW et al.)

More Science

One of the strongest predictors of well-being is the quality of an individual’s social relationships. This study explores how those relationships can impact self worth.

Structured Learning and Self‐Reflection: Strategies to Decrease Anxiety in the Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nursing Experience