Random act of kindness leads to better mental health: Researchers

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Life is a long journey where we meet a lot of companions. The number and strength of relationships affect your mental and physical wellbeing throughout life.

The benefits of social connections and good mental health are numerous and researchers have revealed that performing acts of kindness and helping other people can be good for people’s health and well-being.

According to a study published in the journal “Psychological Bulletin”, the strength of the link depends on a number of factors, including, the definition of well-being, the type of kindness, age of the helper, gender, and other demographic factors.

The lead author of the study, Bryant PH Hui from the University of Hong Kong said, “Prosocial behavior—altruism, cooperation, trust and compassion—are all necessary ingredients of a harmonious and well-functioning society”

Hui added that it is a part of the shared culture of humankind, and the analysis made by them shows that it also contributes to mental and physical health.

Previous studies have shown that people who engage in social behavior are happier and carry better mental and physical health than those who are introverted from society. However, not all studies have found evidence for that link, and the strength of the connection has varied in the research literature. To get a better understanding of the variation, the research team had conducted a meta-analysis of the 201 studies, including 1,98,213 participants and examined the relationship between social behavior and well-being. Through this, overall they found a moderate relationship between the two.

According to Hui, “although the effect size is small, it still makes sense considering how many people do acts of kindness on a daily basis.”

Through a closer examination of the research, it was found that random acts of kindness, such as helping an elderly neighbor carry groceries, are more strongly related to overall well-being than to formal social behavior, such as volunteering scheduled for a charity. Hui commented on this statement that “it may be because informal helping is more casual and spontaneous and may more easily lead to forming social connections”.

According to the reports, Younger givers report higher overall well-being, eudaimonic well-being, and psychiatric scientific activity, while older givers report higher physical health.

The authors wrote, “Also, women showed stronger relationships between prosociality and several measures of well-being compared with men, perhaps because women are stereotypically expected to be more caring and giving”.