Everyone knows that it is generally a good thing to be nice to others, but as well as making them and you feel good, being kind could also be good for your health.

It seems that even small acts of kindness towards others could see health improvements in several areas. A number of different institutes from across the world have looked at this topic with some interesting results.

So, if you needed a reason to be even nicer to people, read on to see why small acts of kindness could actually go a long way.

Reduces anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety or sometimes get nervous in certain situations, being kind can help to reduce this. According to researchers at the University of British Columbia, random acts of kindness — even just complimenting a stranger — can help to lessen feelings of anxiety.

The study had people diagnosed with anxiety do six random acts of kindness for others every week for four weeks, which also helped them to be less prone to social avoidance and improved relationship satisfaction.

Releases more of the ‘love hormone’

Oxytocin — known as the love hormone — is responsible for a lot of different things, including trust and bonding with other people. It can give you a bit of a high and make you generally happier if your body produces more of it.

According to a study from Claremont Graduate University, being empathetic towards strangers increased oxytocin by around 47 per cent. This response was stronger in women, but men still saw an increase in the hormone when empathising with people they didn’t know.

Less stress

Small acts of kindness can help you feel less stressed and combat the effects of any tension in your life. This is according to a study by the University of California and Yale University School of Medicine, which found that small acts like giving directions and holding a door for someone helped to relieve stress from people’s lives.

Researchers found that people had more negative thoughts about their lives on days where they were particularly stressed. However, if they were kind to other people on stress-filled days, they didn’t report these negative feelings.

Generally feel better

Being kind to other people can generally make you feel happier about your life, meaning it pays to be nice. Even small acts can help you feel happier, while also improving someone else’s day.

According to a series of experiments by Harvard Business School, those who do things for others reported higher levels of happiness.

One experiment assigned people to randomly buy something for themselves, give to charity or give a gift to someone else. It found that those who gave their money away or bought something for another person were happier than those who spent it on themselves, no matter how much or little they spent.

All of these are great reasons to spread a little kindness about.