Feeling stressed, anxious, rushed and uptight is a common experience for many at this time of year. The best way to mitigate those feelings is by doing something for another person.

A study examining this concept was published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. 77 adults between the ages of 18 and 44 were recruited for the study. Each person had to use their smart phone to report their daily feelings and experiences for 14 days. They recorded each stressful event that happened to them during that time and the total number of stressful events were tallied up as a measure of their overall stress levels.

Throughout the trial each person also reported how many acts of kindness they committed, regardless of whether they were big or small. At the end, each participant was asked to complete a 10 question quiz designed to measure their emotions and rate their mental health on a scale from 1 (very bad) to 100 (excellent).

The researchers noticed that the people who performed small acts of kindness had more good days during the trial than those who didn’t. These people also handled stressful events better. They didn’t get as upset by them.

The key researcher in the study concluded with the following statement: “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. It may end up helping you feel just a little bit better.”

Great advice. Even better if you continue with it all year round.



Ansell E, Laws H, Raposa E. Prosocial Behavior Mitigates the Negative Effects of Stress in Everyday Life. Clinical Psychological Science. 2015