Put Your Social Anxiety to Rest by Practicing Random Acts of Kindness

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The saying, “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” is well known. Its altruistic message rings true to many and now, it seems, science has weighed in. According to a recent study from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, acts of kindness may help to counter negative social expectations.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA),social anxiety affects 1.5 percent of the U.S. population (3.3 million adults). It causes discomfort, fear, or worry. When interacting with other people, those that suffer from the condition become overly concerned with being judged negatively or looked down upon.

Co-author of the study Jennifer Trew explains that acts of kindness were found to promote more positive perceptions and expectations of a person’s social environment.

An article in Health.com explains that the research, recently published in the journal Motivation and Emotion. involved a four week study of...

…115 undergraduate students with high levels of social anxiety. The students were randomly divided into three groups. The first group was told to perform acts of kindness, such as doing a roommate’s dishes, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, or donating to a charity. The second group was exposed to social interactions, but instructed to not engage in good deeds. The third group recorded what happened daily but these participants were not give any specific instructions on how to interact with others.”

Good news: the group that engaged in acts of kindness had an increased desire to be social and less social anxiety compared to the other two groups.

This points to the possibility of developing treatment strategies that utilize acts of kindness and good deeds to help quell social anxiety.

Co-author Lynn Alden, of the University of British Columbia, reiterated this idea in a Motivation and Emotion news release, stating...

An intervention using this technique may work especially well early on while participants anticipate positive reactions from others in response to their kindness.” 

Other studies in the past have also linked kindness to increased levels of serotonin, the “feel good” chemical found in the brain that carries signals between nerves.

All of which is to say that no good deed goes unrewarded! At least not when it comes to our mental health.

If you suffer from social anxiety or just feel the need to spread the love, Psychology Today suggests these simple acts of kindness to get you started,

  • Write about “The Perfect Surprise” you would do for someone special.

  • Hold the door for a stranger.

  • Send a random hello email or text to a family member or friend you hardly ever see.

  • Give a compliment to someone at work or school.

  • Make a handmade card.

  • Bring donuts or bagels to work.

  • Smile to everyone.

  • Help an elder with his or her groceries.

  • Wave to children at the park.

  • Say “I love you” to everyone you love.

  • Do a chore for someone who needs help.

  • Donate

  • Volunteer

  • Listen to a friend.

Image via Flickr

Sources:

Read all articles by Juniper Briggs 

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