The health benefits of random acts of kindness and giving donations
Research in the US suggests acts of kindness like donating money, volunteering and mentoring can boost the giver's emotional and physical health.
Acts of kindness can take many forms, and has become especially important during the pandemic as people have become more isolated.
Putting the well-being of others before our own without expecting anything in return -- or what is called being altruistic -- stimulates the reward centers of the brain, studies show. Those feel-good chemicals flood our system, producing a sort of "helper's high." Volunteering, for example, has been shown to minimize stress and improve depression.
Giving seems to lessen our pain. A recent study found that people who said they would donate money to help orphans were less sensitive to an electric shock than those who declined to give. In addition, the more helpful people thought their donation would be, the less pain they felt.
How could this happen? The study found that regions of the brain that react to painful stimulation appear to be instantly deactivated by the experience of giving.
Some research studies link kindness with the release of neurotransmitters and hormones that contribute to mood and well-being.
Researchers also are studying how altruism improves physical health in measurable ways, such as lowering blood pressure or strengthening the immune system. One study showed spending money on others improved the cardiovascular health of at-risk older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Another study looked at gene expression, the process that enables a cell to respond to its changing environment, and examined changes linked to long-term physical health outcomes. That research concluded that incorporating "small acts of kindness" into a daily routine could positively alter gene regulation.
Islam's emphasis on kindness
Displaying acts of kindness is a fundamental aspect of Islam, a religion that encourages kindness and compassion towards everyone, no matter, one’s religion, status or color.
There is an emphasis in the Quran to be kind to one’s parents and orphans.
In addition to performing our daily prayers, being a true Muslim involves making a concerted effort to follow the actions of Prophet Muhammad in our daily lives.