Good Deeds Can Help People With Anxiety Come Out of Their Shells
Social anxiety can have a big impact on people’s lives, causing them to struggle in social situations and miss out on forming bonds with others. For those who suffer from social anxiety, scientists suggest that doing good deeds may help you to feel more comfortable around new people, based on the results of recent research.
The experiment, carried out by researchers from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, involved 155 students who said they experience high levels of social anxiety. They were randomly divided into three groups. One group were instructed to perform good deeds, such as donating to charity or voluntarily washing up friends’ dishes. Another group was exposed to good deeds but didn’t perform any themselves. The third group simply carried on life as normal.
Findings showed that those who performed good deeds experienced a reduction in their desire to avoid social situations. Study leaders Jennifer Trew and Lynn Alden believe that performing good deeds helps to counter people’s feelings of possible rejection, anxiety and distress, because of the positive reaction they receive from others when they do good things.
The same effect was not seen in individuals who were only exposed to good deeds without actually carrying them out themselves. It seems that actively lending a helping hand to others yourself is the key to soothing your social anxiety.
“It helps to reduce their levels of social anxiety and, in turn, makes them less likely to want to avoid social situations,” explains Dr Alden. “An intervention using this technique may work especially well early on while participants anticipate positive reactions from others in response to their kindness.”
There is no doubt that performing acts of kindness can be a real mood-booster, increasing people’s happiness and sense of fulfilment. If good deeds can also help people with social anxiety to have more positive social experiences and form more beneficial relationships, there is no shortage of reasons to do what you can to help those around you.