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Image / Editorial

Research Says Being Polite Can Reduce Stress


by Jennifer McShane
02nd Jan 2016
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Thanks to the hectic hustle and bustle of daily life, stress, unfortunately can become a regular part of it. It’s safe to say that we’ll literally try any method to banish its presence, from mindfulness to various other relaxation techniques. However, a new study has suggested that it needn’t be so difficult; we simply have to inject a little more politeness into our day to see our stress levels reduced.

For the study, published online earlier this month in Clinical Psychological Science, researchers used data from 77 people who were originally recruited for another study about drinking habits. Participants were asked to keep track of their stress, mental health, and moods using a survey on their smartphones once per day for two weeks.

As part of that survey, participants were also asked about how often they performed “prosocial behaviours” each day – small gestures of kindness including doing things like holding the door open for someone else or asking others if they needed any help. Perhaps unsurprisingly, on days when participants performed more of these?prosocial behaviours, the less stressed out they felt as their moods were regulated and rated their mental health more positively.??It’s also worth nothing that people who were exceptionally helpful of others didn’t have any significant drop in mood level at all – even on days when they reported feeling a lot of stress, so it seems even doing a small gesture for another can be very beneficial.

This research only adds to other findings which affirm that time spent helping others is linked to all kinds of healthy benefits (as well as stress reduction), including increased self-esteem, lower blood pressure and even a longer life.

“Findings suggest that affiliative behaviour may be an important component of coping with stress and indicate that engaging in prosocial activities’might be an effective strategy for reducing the impact of stress on emotional functioning,” said the study authors.

So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, why not make someone’s day (and yours too) by showing some extra kindness. You don’t have to go overboard or opt for any grand gestures, as it is usually the little things that go a long way.

See more on the study here