In case you’ve forgotten the true meaning of the season, there’s a new study that will help to give us all a little nudge. You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get after helping someone else? Well, it turns out it’s an actual thing! A new study from Yale University suggests that helping or supporting others can improve and benefit your emotional and mental health.
PsychCentral reports about the study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science that finds helping others (even strangers) can make you feel better and improve your mental health. Researchers involved in the study had a group of 77 adults keep a smartphone diary, recording daily stresses, how often they helped others like holding a door open for a stranger or helping a child with homework, and ranking themselves daily (from 1 - 100) on their mental health.
What researchers found was that when participants helped others more on a particular day, they were able to deal with the daily stressors much easier. The greater the number of instances where a participant helped someone else also led to giving themselves a higher score on their mental health rating for the day.
So next time you’re having a bad day you may want to heed the advice of researchers who say the answer to feeling better may lie in simple acts of kindness. Author of the study Emily Ansell, Ph.D explains how we can all put this plan into action. She says, “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.” Ansell adds, “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 said. “It may end up helping you feel just a little bit better.”
What do you think about the new study that suggests helping others, even in little ways, can improve your daily mental and emotional health?
Next time you’re having a bad day, will you make it a point to help others?