The study proving that helping other people will reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health couldn’t have come a better time, with Christmas being just around the corner. Add to this the current problems stemming from climate change we face as a species, a call for charity as well as helping one another comes at a rather fortuitous time for all.
The psychological study was conducted at the Yale University and it tried to prove that when people are subjected to large amounts of stress, simple altruism can lift their spirits up as well as provide an increase in mental healthiness. It was commonly known that the beneficial psychological effects of proactive support were only applied to those receiving it, not to those that give it as well.
It’s not entirely surprising, considering that lending a hand to someone in need makes you connect with that person on an emotional level besides making you feel somewhat better about yourself. If a conclusive medical benefit is added to those on the giving end as well, it might urge people to lead a more altruistic way of life.
This improvement is not associated to only charity. Even small gestures like holding the door open for someone could make you cope in a much more positive fashion to the stress of daily life. The amount of charitable actions also improves the benefits given by them by a considerable amount as well.
The study was comprised of the analysis of 70 subjects of ages ranging from 18 to 44 years old on a daily basis through a smartphone app. The app in question would provide them at the end of the day with a simple form in order for researchers to document the amount of stress patients were facing that day as well as their general disposition at day’s end.
Their gathered information showed that those who engaged in a prosocial way towards charity in a stress-filled day would suffer the effects of stress in a much more beneficial manner. For those who engaged in a number of altruistic events throughout their stressful days would show no symptoms of stress what-so-ever.
The positive and negative emotion levels towards stress were changed as well through altruism, with subjects presenting a massive increase in positive emotions across the board. Those who reported a lower amount of helping acts throughout the day suffered from an increase in negative emotion response while their positive response remained at low levels. This result was independent of the amount of stressful events the aforementioned subjects were subjected to during that day.
Even if helping other people will reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health, a fact shown uniformly across the subjects in the study, the reduction of negative emotions could no be directly linked to charity. It might help just by keeping the subject’s mind off his or her problems, focusing on the task at hand while ignoring their stress levels or general mood.