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Kindness Challenge

Let’s talk wellness (our favorite!). Pilates regulars know that the mind-body connection is no joke, but there is some cold, hard science that says so too. Speaking of the mind, May is mental health awareness month. While the fact that 1 in 5 Americans struggle with mental illness in some capacity may seem shocking, this is the reality we face. Studies indicate that since the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed. In a world of physical and often emotional isolation (yikes) there is one simple yet immensely powerful thing we can do not only to help others but to dramatically strengthen our own mental AND physical health:

The golden rule: treat others the way you wanted to be treated. It turns out there is more to that than just feel-good warm fuzzies.

Did you know we are actually wired to be kind? Yes, it’s true, it’s in our DNA. But the thing is kindness functions much like any other skill - if you don’t use it, you lose it.

You’ve likely heard of the 21-day habit rule. Meaning, if you engage in an activity daily for 21 consecutive days it will become a habit. (Some researchers posit this should really be the 66-day rule, but for our purposes, let’s stick with 21.)

We’ve created a realistic 21-day kindness habit challenge (check out the graphics as you read or see the full list at the bottom!) and will be posting reminders these next 3 weeks on Instagram and Facebook to help you remember to participate! Most of these are simple and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine, while others may take a little planning. You can always repeat or replace an activity - every kindness counts!

How exactly does being kind foster your mind-body connection?

Kindness Releases Happy Hormones

Seratonin, the chemical responsible for giving us feelings of satisfaction and well-being, is created when we do things that make us feel good. We can do Pilates, spend time in the sunshine, or get a massage (all awesome ideas) to produce serotonin, or we can - yes, you guessed it - be kind.

Endorphins are involved here as well. Endorphins are a hormone, while serotonin is a chemical - but all we need to know is they are key to our feeling of happiness. Like exercise, altruism releases endorphins. Ever heard of a “runner’s high”? Well, let us introduce you to the “helper’s high.” This is the uplifting feeling that follows altruism (and it can be pretty addictive).

Kindness Eases Anxiety

Whether it’s mild nervousness or severe panic, anxiety is a facet of the human experience. While we can use medications or natural remedies to manage the condition, a University of British Colombia study on happiness indicates that the healthiest and most inexpensive way to keep your anxiety at bay might be as simple as showing others kindness.

Kindness Warms Your Heart

Aside from endorphins, altruism releases the hormone oxytocin, which is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone due to its role in protecting the heart by lowering blood pressure.

And of course, being kind makes others feel great too!

Ready to get started? Follow along with us on Instagram and Facebook for your weekly challenge reminder, or build your own challenge from the list below!

  1. Send a meaningful text message.

  2. Tell a friend you’re thinking of them by tagging them on a social media post you know they would appreciate.

  3. Clean up some garbage in a public place.

  4. Send a loved one a care package.

  5. Leave a positive sticky note for someone to find.

  6. Send a loved one a letter in the mail.

  7. Donate items to charity.

  8. Give a stranger a compliment.

  9. Call someone you care about but haven’t talked to in a while.

  10. Buy a cup of coffee for someone.

  11. Bring a meal to someone.

  12. Leave a local business a positive review.

  13. Donate books you’ve already read to your library.

  14. Reconnect with an old friend.

  15. Have a lot of Facebook friends you don’t interact with much? Like & comment something nice on their latest post.

  16. Compliment the first 3 people you speak to today.

  17. Let someone with only a few items go in front of you in line.

  18. Write your partner or child a list of things you love about them.

  19. Reply to an online post you enjoy.

  20. Write & send a thank you note.

  21. Endorse a skill or leave a positive recommendation on LinkedIn.

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