World Kindness Day 2023

From a thoughtful “just checking in” text from your best friend to offering to pay for a stranger’s morning coffee, World Kindness Day celebrates and encourages each of us to show a little love to everyone around us. Let’s think about how kindness impacts us and others?


 The Science of Kindness

When we think of kindness, we tend to picture those warm fuzzy feelings that others may get from our actions, but we can also experience a flood of positive emotions ourselves after doing something selfless! This phenomenon is known as “Helper’s High” where you might feel excitement, joy, and improved self-esteem after carrying out a random act of kindness(1,2). Our emotions are linked to increased levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin otherwise known as the “happy hormones” which have been linked with good mental health(1). The association of these positive emotions makes us more likely to ‘pay it forward’ and continue the cycle of kindness.

 Stress, Kindness, and The Gut Microbiota

We know the effects that kindness can have on our brains, but did you know that it can also have amazing effects on our gut? Now more than ever, we have seen the need for kindness in our communities as many of us are bogged down with day-to-day stresses. In fact, according to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have reported experiencing stress where they feel unable to cope(3).

In response to stressful events, we produce more hormones that can make us feel anxious, irritable and experience low mood (4). With prolonged periods of stress (like feeling anxious at work or when preparing for an important exam), studies show a decrease in the diversity of your gut bugs and increase in “bad” bacteria. This can have negative effects not only on your mental health but also your gut and physical health in the long-term(5,6). Looking after your emotional well-being can have beneficial effects on your gut and vice versa(7). That goes to show that a little bit of kindness really does go a long way!

Ways to be kind:

Here are few simple ways to show kindness in different areas of your daily life…

Be Kind to Others:

  • Leave a housemate a kind message on a sticky note.
  • Offer to mow your neighbour’s lawn whilst you mow your own.
  • Pay a stranger a compliment.
  • Buy a loved one their favourite snack.
  • Support a local business.
  • Give a loved one a much-needed hug after a stressful day.
  • Volunteer with a local charity.


Be Kind to Yourself:

  • Treat yourself to a solo cinema date!
  • Talk kindly to yourself.
  • Give yourself a home pamper day.
  • Hit the gym!
  • Take time to reflect daily and practice gratitude.

 Be Kind to Your Gut:


  1. Dossey, L. (2018) ‘The Helper’s High’, EXPLORE, 14(6), pp. 393–399. Available at:
  2. Brown, K.M., Hoye, R. and Nicholson, M. (2012) ‘Self-Esteem, Self-Efficacy, and Social Connectedness as Mediators of the Relationship Between Volunteering and Well-Being’, Journal of Social Service Research, 38(4), pp. 468–483. Available at:
  3. Stressed nation: 74% of UK ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope’ at some point in the past year | Mental Health Foundation (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 11 October 2023).
  4. Understanding the stress response – Harvard Health (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 17 October 2023).
  5. Foster, J.A., Rinaman, L. and Cryan, J.F. (2017) ‘Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome’, Neurobiology of Stress, 7, p. 124. Available at:
  6. Foster, J.A., Rinaman, L. and Cryan, J.F. (2017) ‘Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome’, Neurobiology of Stress, 7, p. 124. Available at:
  7. Lee, S.H. et al. (2020) ‘Emotional well-being and gut microbiome profiles by enterotype’, Scientific Reports 2020 10:1, 10(1), pp. 1–9. Available at: