The simple trick to boost your mood in minutes
What do you usually do to cheer yourself up on a rainy day? Most of us tend to call a friend or loved one, put on their favourite movie or perhaps hit the salty snack cupboard. However, new research published in the journal Emotion last week suggests that indulgent activities such as these do little to nothing to boost our mood.
The research found that giving to others or practicing acts of kindness is the best way to improve our mood and overall wellbeing.
The study involved 473 volunteers who were separated into four groups. Each group had to complete different tasks over a six-week period. The researchers found that participants who performed acts of kindness, whether those acts were for the world or specific people, were more likely to report feeling happy or experience an improvement in mood than those who did the self-focused and neutral behaviour.
Dr. Katherine Nelson, assistant professor of psychology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and lead author of the study, said “I was not surprised that prosocial behaviour led people to feel greater positive emotions, and in turn, greater flourishing”.
“I think this is important because people are often encouraged to ‘treat themselves’ as a way to feel good, yet our findings suggest that the best way to feel happy is to treat someone else instead.”
Previous studies have shown that acts of kindness may not only boost your mental health, but also your physical well-being. For instance, separate research suggests that being altruistic can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress.
Performing acts of kindness can also activate the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, in the brain — and it can lead to us feeling like we’re serving something larger than the self.
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