An act of kindness a day keeps depression at bay.

How are you feeling today? Energized, capable, connected, and peaceful? Or are you bored, sad, lonely, unfocused, or isolated?

If it’s the latter, this may be the cure you’ve been looking for: kindness.

Why kindness? Mental health authorities around the world say that practicing acts of kindness frequently produces multiple health benefits. According to the UK’s Mental Health Foundation, for example, kindness:

  • Promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness
  • Slows heart disease and the aging process
  • Encourages a sense of belonging while reducing feelings of isolation
  • Helps people gain perspective and balance
  • Improves a person’s confidence, control, happiness, and optimism
  • Reduces stress
  • Helps minimize negative feelings
  • Helps us live longer and healthier lives

As a 2011 article in the Huffington Post explains, “Oxytocin (which we produce through emotional warmth) reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system and thus slows aging at its source. Incidentally these two culprits also play a major role in heart disease, so this is also another reason why kindness is good for the heart.”

Convinced? Are you ready to “pay it forward”? Here are some ways to get started. Smile at someone who is looking miserable. Volunteer an hour this month to a cause you support. Donate a few dollars to a local charity. Text or email a few words of recognition to an unsung hero. Call a friend or family member who is struggling right now.

“Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain.