Study Shows Acts of Kindness Can Be More Effective in Easing Depression than Self-Care Activities

People are naturally wired to feel happy when they do kind things for others. This is important for animals, like us, that live and work together in groups.

A new study found that doing nice things for people randomly can help more with feeling better and less sad than planning fun stuff for ourselves.

The study looked at ways to help with feeling less sad or worried without using medicine. One way is to change how we think and act. They tried out different things, like doing nice things for others without planning, doing fun activities twice a week, and thinking differently about stressful thoughts.

They asked the people in the study how they felt before, during, and five weeks after. They wanted to know if they felt alone, worried about what others think, or if they felt good about their life.

One of the researchers, Jennifer Cheavens, told the Greater Good Magazine, "We did think that, if there was going to be an advantage of one group over another, it might be the thoughts record group, since that’s such a tried-and-true way of addressing depressive [and anxiety] symptoms."

All three groups felt better as the study went on. The group that did kind things for others felt really good at first, but that feeling became less as time went on. The group that wrote down their thoughts started feeling better over time, even though they felt bad at the start.

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