Acts of kindness have the power to change the world - 30 to try that'll boost your mood

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Acts of kindness: A woman reaching out to hold a friend's hand
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If you're Googling "acts of kindness", chances are, you're after ideas for things to do that'll make someone smile.

An act of kindness, in its simplest form, is simply doing something nice for someone or something just because. As Dr Radha Modgil, a BBC Radio 1 presenter and wellbeing expert points out, "kindness is a gesture motivated by genuine feelings for others and can mean a lot of different things to different people."

By that, she means what you perceive as kind - someone making you a cup of tea at work when you're back-to-back with meetings or remembering your go-to breakfast order at a cafe - will be different to someone else. Every person is unique and their perception of the world is unique, too.

That said, one thing we all have in common is appreciating small acts of kindness. Research by the Mental Health Foundation shows that 63% of UK adults agree that when other people are kind, it has a positive impact on their mental health. The same proportion of people agree that being kind to others has a positive impact on their own wellbeing too. 

Below, we've rounded up thirty of the simplest acts of kindness to try, whether that's thanking your postman or making time for lunch with a new colleague at work. Because remember: every little helps.

Don't miss our Health Editor's go-to self care ideas, morning routine ideas, and methods for reframing negative thoughts, while you're here.

Acts of kindness have the power to change the world - 30 to try

What is an act of kindness?

So what does kindness mean to Modgil, then? "First and foremost, I believe kindness is a tool for self-care. It is a form of therapy - something that makes us feel better and which can help us to recover," she shares.

Kindness, secondly, is an act of courage. "When people aren’t necessarily showing kindness themselves, it takes a lot of courage to step up and actually be kind," she shares. "But no matter how vulnerable it may make you feel, your acts of kindness can make such a difference to somebody’s life and overall wellbeing."

Dr Essam Daod, a child psychiatrist and co-founder of Humanity Crew agrees, further adding that kindness is an act of self care. “The best thing you can do for your own wellbeing is to give to others, but in order to help others you need to look after yourself first, too."

Why are acts of kindness so important?

Wondering why an acts of kindness article is appearing on the health and fitness section of Marie Claire UK? Good question - and because, in short, kindness and wellbeing are intrinsically linked. "We know that performing acts of kindness can help us feel more capable and so can boost self-esteem," shares Modgil.

Not just that, but it can be a lifesaver, too. "When someone is really struggling, simple acts of kindness and being listened to – whatever the interaction is - really can save someone’s life and help them on their path to feeling and getting better. Kindness really is an action.”

Kindness can also help us to strengthen our relationships and social connections with others, which is well established as being essential for good mental wellbeing, share both experts.

Ready to give them a go? Keep scrolling for our suggestions.

Acts of kindness to try

  • Hold the door open for a stranger
  • Text someone and ask how their day was
  • Listen to those around you and in need
  • Ask others if they need help
  • Volunteer at a charity
  • Offer your time to a worthy cause, like a soup kitchen or local project

♬ Home - Edith Whiskers
  • Find a pen pal and write to them
  • Go for a run with someone who struggles with fitness motivation
  • Wish someone good morning
  • Smile at a stranger
  • Eat lunch with a new colleague or friend
  • Write a positive review

♬ original sound - Neenib Youkana
  • Praise a friend
  • Bake a cake and share it with your neighbours
  • Add your pronouns to your email signature and social media accounts
  • Let someone jump in front of you in a queue
  • Help someone with directions
  • Thank your postman

♬ Heartbeats - Jose Gonzalez
  • Donate a book
  • Write positive affirmations on sticky notes and leave them in random places
  • Be an active listener
  • Cook a meal for someone who is struggling
  • Donate blood
  • Organise a community clean up

♬ This Wisp Sings by Winter Aid but slowed down - lastmanstanley
  • Send an encouraging email
  • Support local businesses
  • Call a friend
  • Tell someone why you're thankful for them
  • Give up your seat to someone in need
  • Pick up some rubbish and dispose of it properly

Because, remember: taking a few moments out of our day to be considerate of others can have a huge impact. 

We recommend checking out the official Random Acts of Kindness website, too.

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Ally Head
Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.