Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) week, Feb. 12-18, is an annual opportunity to unite the community through kindness.
Formally recognized in 1995, this weeklong celebration is dedicated to inspiring everyone to practice and spread kindness. Simply stated, kindness is about being good to others.
Kindness starts with one person and one act. No act of kindness is too small. Simple acts, such as giving a genuine compliment, helping someone carry his or her groceries or buying someone a coffee, can change their day for the better and positively affect their mood. Random acts of kindness can also include engaging in service opportunities, such as alternative service breaks, or volunteering to work at the local humane society or food bank.
People also tend to feel better about themselves after helping others. This phenomenon is called a “helper’s high” and is the result of activating the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Activation of these areas in the brain can increase energy and happiness, and decrease stress, anxiety and blood pressure. These physiological changes can also be the result of decreases in cortisol, which is commonly known as the stress hormone, and increases in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a feel-good chemical that helps regulate mood, reduce anxiety and increase feelings of pleasure. Performing acts of kindness can also produce oxytocin, sometimes called the “love” or “cuddle” hormone, which can aid in lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart health.
In honor of RAK week, Vandal Health Education challenges all Vandals to create a culture of kindness on campus. Students can dedicate themselves to paying it forward and focusing on the good. Be kind to one another and give to those in need.
Need some inspiration? Stop by our Health Hut in the Idaho Commons on Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. to talk with one of our Peer Health Educators about how you can take small steps to improve your health through kindness. We will be handing out KIND bars and asking students, faculty and staff to share stories of kindness.
Alex Rodriguez is a Peer Health Educator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org