Helping someone could have the benefit of lowering stress emotions of your own.
Research from a new study says you can relieve your own stress and be happier by helping other people cope with their problems, according to an article on sentinel-standard.com.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Yale University of Medicine sent a series of questionnaires to 77 adults between the ages of 18 and 44, each evening for two weeks.
One questionnaire focused on the stressful events of the participant for the day, and another asked about any pro-social behaviors they had performed during the day, things like holding the door for someone or assisting a student with schoolwork.
Separate surveys asked the participants to record their emotions for the day, both positive and negative, and asked them to rate their mental health for the day as well, on a scale from 0-100.
The findings show that on days when they were helpful to someone, the participants did not experience any loss of positive emotion or mental health quality, and on days in which they were not as helpful as usual, they experienced a lower positive emotion and responded to stress in a more negative way.
Although the researchers say the reason for the helping behavior decreasing the effects of stress is not clear, the results suggest that helping or supporting others during the day could help you to minimize the effects of stress on your own emotions.
The team suggests that helping others could distract you from focusing on your own problems and taking your mind off of a stressful situation you had been experiencing, or the act of kindness could possibly stimulate certain biological systems that lower your emotional stress response.
The team also acknowledged that the study was very limited, in that all the participants in this particular study were Caucasian, and the results may not apply to the general population. They also add that more research was needed to study the participants responses to multiple experiences with stress during the day as well as doing multiple acts of kindness.
Even with the limitations of the study, it suggests that the next time you are feeling stressed, try doing something nice for someone else. You may be doing yourself a favor as well.