Thu, 11 Apr, 2019
The 12-minute trick to reducing anxiety
When you’re in a bad mood, it can be tempting to just take it out on those around you. However, a new study has found that a few acts of kindness will help a lot more in boosting your mood – and 12 minutes is all it takes.
Researchers from Iowa State University discovered that getting up and giving well-wishes to others could help lower anxiety and improve happiness.
“Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection,” said Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology at Iowa University and co-author of the study, in a statement.
“It’s a simple strategy that doesn’t take a lot of time that you can incorporate into your daily activities.”
In the study published in Journal of Happiness Studies, Gentile and two colleagues tested a number of techniques aimed at reducing anxiety and increasing wellbeing.
A total of 496 student volunteers were asked to walk around the building for 12 minutes and try one of the techniques, which included “loving-kindness” (looking at another person and thinking “I wish for this person to be happy”) and “interconnectedness” (looking at another person and thinking about how they might be connected to each other, such as the feelings they might share or how similar the classes they take might be).
Those who practiced loving-kindness were found to feel happier, more connected, empathetic and less anxious.
Meanwhile, the ones who tried the interconnectedness method did not feel any difference in their happiness and anxiety levels but scored higher on social connection.
The techniques were also found to be working for everyone regardless of personality types or gender. Participants who scored highly on a narcissism test had no more difficulty thinking well wishes than the people who had high scores in a mindfulness test.
“This simple practice is valuable regardless of your personality type,” said Lanmiao He, one of the report’s co-authors.
“Extending loving-kindness to others worked equally well to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, empathy and feelings of social connection.”
So, the next time you feel distressed, it can be helpful to just take 12 minutes out of your time and think kind thoughts about others.
Have you tried this trick to relieve anxiety? Let us know in the comments.