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July 4, 2018

How Random Acts of Kindness Can Help Reduce Anxiety

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Being kind feels good and now a study suggests that acts of kindness can help to reduce anxiety. Jess joined Jeff to discuss this study and other research related to kindness on Global TV’s The Morning Show. Check out the summary and video clip below.

1. What did this study find?

Two Canadian researchers divided participants into three groups to test the effect of various interventions of social anxiety. One group was assigned exposure therapy, another was asked to record life details (considered a neutral approach) and the other was asked to perform acts of kindness (like doing the dishes for your roommate). Those who performed acts of kindness reported the greatest reduction in social anxiety (measured by levels of social avoidance goals).

2. Why might random acts of kindness reduce social anxiety?

Performing acts of kindness can help to offset expectations of negative social interactions. When you’re kind, you may also anticipate positive interactions from others and this can decrease concerns about social interactions.

3. Are there other benefits associated with kindness?

There is a wealth of research documenting the connection between kindness and positive health, social, individual and group benefits. Kindness is positively correlated with lower stress, greater happiness, less pain, greater energy lower blood pressure and reduced symptoms of depression.

One study found that even thinking more compassionately can reduce cortisol levels and reduce inflammation in the body.

Other research reveals that people who volunteer have fewer aches and pains and live longer than those who do not.

4. Does it matter if the kindness is directed toward people you’re close with versus strangers?

You can reap the health benefits of kindness with anyone at all. Kindness is contagious and simply witnessing it can inspire optimism and altruism — via moral elevation. You’ll likely find that kindness leads to stronger, more fulfilling social bonds, which are key to physical and mental health.

5. If you’re well intended and don’t know where to start, what random acts of kindness can Canadians partake in starting today?

  • Pay for the coffee for the person behind you in line.
  • Let cars into your lane.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Pick up litter even though it’s not yours.
  • Offer someone your seat on the bus/train.
  • Leave a note on a stranger’s car wishing them a good day.
  • Instead of just scrolling through photos and lurking, double tap or leave a positive comment.
  • The next time you’re going to make a small purchase (e.g. buying a latte), donate the money instead.
  • If someone buys you something (a drink, lunch, coffee), donate the money to a worthy cause.
  • Drop in to say hello to a neighbour who lives alone.
  • Compliment someone you work with (a non-appearance based compliment).
  • Pack a lunch for a co-worker.
  • Offer to walk a neighbour’s dog.
  • Hold the door.
  • Help to carry grocery bags.
  • Share your umbrella in the rain.

These are just a few ideas. Add yours in the comments below!