+
More

Feeling anxious? A new study suggests an interesting remedy: doing good deeds.

A new study shows that performing acts of kindness might have the added benefit of helping treat symptoms of social anxiety.

Committing an act of kindness can be rewarding, but did you know it might also help reduce social anxiety?

That's what two Canadian researchers have found in a study published in the journal Motivation and Emotion. Researchers Jennifer Trew and Lynn Alden looked at some of the underlying factors of people living with social anxiety disorder and found an interesting pattern in behavior.

People suffering from social anxiety disorder — which is defined by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) as "extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations" — frequently take steps to avoid socializing. In the study, Trew and Alden examined those steps to see what kind of effect they had on actually reducing the symptoms of social anxiety.


Hi there. You on the stage. Welcome to your social anxiety disorder nightmare situation. Image by Phil Simon/Flickr.

In other words, they decided to test what would happen if they disrupted the pattern of withdrawing from social situations and make people with social anxiety face their fears.

The study's 115 participants — made up of undergraduate students living with social anxiety disorder — were split into three separate groups.

The first group was asked to perform acts of kindness, such as mowing their neighbor's lawn, donating to charity, or doing their roommate's dishes.

The second group was exposed to social situations but wasn't made to directly interact or perform specific acts.

The third group was asked to simply keep notes of what they did each day. This was the study's control group.

Let's imagine this father/son duo is mowing the neighbor's lawn in the name of science. Photo by Scott Elias/Flickr.

In the U.S. alone, it's estimated that around 15 million people live with social anxiety disorder.

Sometimes called "social phobia," social anxiety disorder is far more than simple shyness. Instead, it's a condition that can, as the ADAA says, "wreak havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it," disrupting their everyday lives.

As is the case with other forms of anxiety, treatment for social anxiety disorder is highly individualized.

Most people who seek treatment for social anxiety disorder find some improvement through therapy or medication (or a combination of the two).

The results of the study suggest that performing acts of kindness could be another tool in the anxiety-fighting toolbox.

The study found that those who were placed into the first group (the ones who performed acts of kindness) saw the largest decrease in avoidance actions. Those in the second group experienced some decrease, but not as fast nor as drastically. As a result of the decrease in avoidance actions, participants saw their overall anxiety symptoms improve as well.

"Acts of kindness may help to counter negative social expectations by promoting more positive perceptions and expectations of a person's social environment," says Trew. "It helps to reduce their levels of social anxiety and, in turn, makes them less likely to want to avoid social situations."

Comedian John Mulaney even tells a joke about the oh-so-good feeling that comes with avoidance actions. Unfortunately, for those with social anxiety disorder, avoiding social interactions might be making their anxiety worse as a result — and that's what makes this study a success.

Still, what a lovely feeling it is. GIF from Comedy Central.

Does this mean standard treatments for social anxiety disorder will be shelved in favor of some community service in the near future? Not a chance.

But understanding how deliberate behaviors can affect symptoms of anxiety is useful in coming up with new and effective forms of treatment moving forward, and these types of exercise can be helpful additions to other treatment methods.

"An intervention using this technique may work especially well early on while participants anticipate positive reactions from others in response to their kindness," Alden adds in the study's description.

So go do something nice for a friend or a neighbor. It certainly couldn't hurt.

True

Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!

However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!

Keep ReadingShow less

Chris Hemsworth and daughter.

This article originally appeared on 08.27.18


In addition to being the star of Marvel franchise "Thor," actor Chris Hemsworth is also a father-of-three? And it turns out, he's pretty much the coolest dad ever.

In a clip from a 2015 interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Hemsworth shared an interesting conversation he had with his 4-year-old daughter India.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

A 92-year-old World War II fighter pilot flies her plane for the first time in 70 years.

"It's the closest thing to having wings of your own and flying that I've known."

Photo pulled from BBC YouTube video

World War II vet flys again.

This article originally appeared on 05.19.15


More than 70 years after the war, a 92-year-old World War II veteran took to the sky once again.

It's been decades since her last flight, but Joy Lofthouse, a 92-year-old Air Transport Auxiliary veteran, was given the chance to board a Spitfire airplane for one more trip.


Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 08.20.21


Sometimes you see something so mind-boggling you have to take a minute to digest what just happened in your brain. Be prepared to take that moment while watching these videos.

Real estate investor and TikTok user Tom Cruz shared two videos explaining the spreadsheets he and his friends use to plan vacations and it's...well...something. Watch the first one:

So "Broke Bobby" makes $125,000 a year. There's that.

How about the fact that his guy has more than zero friends who budget $80,000 for a 3-day getaway? Y'all. I wouldn't know how to spend $80,000 in three days if you paid me to. Especially if we're talking about a trip with friends where we're all splitting the cost. Like what does this even look like? Are they flying in private jets that burn dollar bills as fuel? Are they bathing in hot tubs full of cocaine? I genuinely don't get it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Someone asked strangers online to share life's essential lessons. Here are the 17 best.

There's a bit of advice here for everyone—from financial wisdom to mental health tips.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Failure is a great teacher.

It’s true that life never gets easier, and we only get continuously better at our lives. Childhood’s lessons are simple—this is how you color in the lines, 2 + 2 = 4, brush your teeth twice a day, etc. As we get older, lessons keep coming, and though they might still remain simple in their message, truly understanding them can be difficult. Often we learn the hard way.

The good news is, the “hard way” is indeed a great teacher. Learning the hard way often involves struggle, mistakes and failure. While these feelings are undeniably uncomfortable, being patient and persistent enough to move through them often leaves us not only wiser in having gained the lesson, but more confident, assured and emotionally resilient. If that’s not growth, I don’t know what is.

Keep ReadingShow less