Helping others can help us deal with stress
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Xmas is upon us and it can be a stressful time of year.
So how can you boost the xmas spirit, make someone else feel good, and deal with stressors you are experiencing?
Giving a small helping hand to others is a surprisingly effective way to deal with stress, according to research.
Dr Emily Ansell, a clinical psychologist who led the study, said:
Our research shows that when we help others we can also help ourselves.
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.”
The results showed helping others both strengthened people’s emotions against stress and made them feel happier.
Dr Ansell said:
It was surprising how strong and uniform the effects were across daily experiences.
For example, if a participant did engage in more prosocial behaviors on stressful days there was essentially no impact of stress on positive emotion or daily mental health.
And there was only a slight increase in negative emotion from stress if the participant engaged in more prosocial behaviors.
That’s kinda counterintuitive.
It’s common to turn to others for help to deal with stress – not turn and help someone else.
And this method to deal with stress could be useful at this time of year.
Dr Ansell said:
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.
It may end up helping you feel just a little bit better.
The study was published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science:
E. B. Raposa, H. B. Laws, E. B. Ansell. Prosocial Behavior Mitigates the Negative Effects of Stress in Everyday Life. Clinical Psychological Science, 2015.
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