Everyday anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. But new research suggests there is a simple way to mitigate it: perform a small act of kindness.
How can paying for a stranger’s bagel or taking in your neighbor’s trash reduce anxiety? Researchers at Ohio State University conducted a head-to-head test of anti-anxiety interventions. Over five weeks, volunteers were asked to do one of three things a few times each week: plan an enjoyable social activity, write about their challenging thoughts, or perform random acts of kindness.
After the experiment, all three groups felt less depressed and anxious. But the group that benefited the most, and that showed a higher level of satisfaction with life overall, was the group that deliberately acted kindly.
Writing in Inc., contributing editor Jessica Stillman points out the many advantages of this approach to anxiety management for busy managers and entrepreneurs. For one thing, it is easily put into action (no waiting for a therapist’s appointment or an opportunity to meditate alone). You can compliment a co-worker or offer someone your seat on public transportation easily.
Kindness can also have a ripple effect. Doing something nice for someone might well inspire them to “pay it forward” and enhance your entire workplace or community.
When was the last time you performed a random act of kindness and how did it affect your mood? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.