If the foot shaking under the table doesn't give you away, then the gum snapping certainly does: You're anxious. And however you cope with your anxiety--or don't--new research reveals an all-natural fix: Being nice. Turns out that good deeds, or kind acts, can make socially anxious people feel a whole lot better.
More from Prevention: 22 Ways To Prevent A Meltdown
For four weeks, University of British Columbia researchers assigned people with high levels of anxiety to do kind acts for other people at least six times a week. The acts of kindness included things like holding the door open for someone, doing chores for other people, donating to charity, and buying lunch for a friend, says study author Lynn Alden, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. The researchers found that doing nice things for people led to a significant increase in people's positive moods. It also led to an increase in relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance.
"People who engage in kind acts become happier over time," says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Why? "When you're kind to others, you feel good as a person--more moral, optimistic, and positive," she says.
More from Prevention: 10 Little Things Connected Couples Do
So whether you suffer from anxiety, or just need a way to boost your mood, here are 13 everyday ways to do something nice for someone--and make yourself feel better in the process:
- Buy a coworker her favorite Starbucks frap next time you stop for morning coffee.
- When you're driving, let someone merge into your lane.
- Offer to stay late and help cleanup at your friend's party.
- Smile and make eye contact with people in the grocery store.
- Pay the toll for the person in the car behind you.
- Baby-sit for your neighbor's kids while she takes a nap.
- Make small talk with the cashier at your dry cleaner.
- Let someone go ahead of you in line at the movies.
- Visit family members you haven't seen in awhile.
- Volunteer to run an errand for a busy coworker.
- Drive a friend to the airport.
- Give a genuine compliment to someone.
- Over-tip your waiter.
More from Prevention: The Best Foods to Make You Feel Better
The New Year is in full swing, and this time around we resolve not to be caught unaware when it comes to paying bills, chaperoning school trips, keeping the house in order, and whatever else life throws our way. Smartphones have made cataloging our countless responsibilities a heck of a lot easier, but the reminders are fleeting, and that tiny screen just doesn’t cut it when it comes to laying out and ticking off the whole nine yards. If you want to get that job done right, not only must you do it yourself, everyone in the house has got to be on board and informed.
Three out of four of you say the most anxiety-inducing part of your job is your boss. Sound familiar?
Our personal finance guru, Tanisha A. Sykes, shares how small investments can pay off big. Here's what you can do with the following:
Should you whittle down your credit card debt or stash cash in savings? Plunk money into your 401(k) or save for college expenses? This quiz will reveal the smartest strategies.
They look lovingly at each other across rooms, finish their partners' sentences, and playfully poke fun at one another. Here's how those blissful twosomes keep the romance alive.
You knew that things would be different after baby came along -- but nothing prepared you for these total 180s.
A university study has narrowed down five tried-and-true ways to keep a relationship alive, and here they are. Consider this a maintenance manual for your love life.