So many people are so overwhelmed and preoccupied with their own problems that they forget to reach out to and help others. And what scientists have discovered is that helping others is truly the balm for our stress. The research suggests that instead of looking to others to help us during times of stress, we should reach out and offer help to others.
The new study, led by Dr. Emily Ansell, has revealed that helping others can help to reduce the impact of stress from our everyday lives. Dr. Emily Ansell is a psychologist at Yale University’s school of medicine.
According to the research, the simple act of holding the door open for someone else can give your mood a boost.
Dr. Ansell said, “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. Our research shows that when we help others we can also help ourselves. It may end up helping you feel just a little bit better. 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.”
The results, which are published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, clearly illuminated that helping others boosts well-being.
Dr. Ansell also discovered that helping others influenced how we respond to stress. Those who rarely helped others tended to have a more negative response to stress while those who helped others a lot tended to respond positively to stress. Examples of helping others included helping someone with homework, holding open a door or carrying someone’s shopping bags up the stairs for them.
Dr. Ansell said that it appeared that helping others buffered the negative impacts of stress on well-being. “It was surprising how strong and uniform the effects were across daily experiences,” she said. “For example, if a participant did engage in more pro-social 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 pro-social behaviors.”