Being Kind To Others Could Help People Fight Stress

Dec 15, 2015 01:10 PM EST | By Maria Leonila Masculino

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'Tis the season for joyful giving!

While people spend the holidays rushing to buy presents and finish year-end reports at the same time, a new study found out how simple acts of kindness could help curb stress.

Medical Daily reports a study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science suggests that being kind to others could reduce stress levels and improve a person's mood.

"Our research shows that when we help others we can also help ourselves," said one of the study authors, Emily Ansell from Yale University School of Medicine. "Stressful days usually lead us to have a worse mood and poorer mental health, but our findings suggest that if we do small things for others, such as holding a door open for someone, we won't feel as poorly on stressful days."

For the study, the researchers recruited 77 adults from age 18 to 44 to participate in a 14-day experiment where they reported their feelings and experiences at the end of the day with the use of their smartphones. To measure their stress levels, the participants were asked to list the stressful events they went through each day, as well as the acts of kindness they committed.

The participants were then asked to answer a 10-item questionnaire to gauge on their emotions and mental health --- on a scale of 1 being the lowest and 100 as the highest.

Findings show that those who have done simple acts of kindness more likely reported having positive days than those who didn't. Helping others was linked to slow increase of negative emotions, while there was zero effect on positive emotions and mental health.

On the other hand, those who did not commit kind deeds tended to report higher negative emotions and lower positive emotions on stressful events.

"The holiday season can be a very stressful time, so think about giving directions, asking someone if they need help, or holding that elevator door over the next month," Ansell notes. "It may end up helping you feel just a little bit better."

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