Scientists from the University of Buffalo in America have conducted a five-year study looking into the benefits of generosity. The study looked at 846 individuals and discovered that when dealing with stressful situations, participants who had helped others the previous year were less likely to die from stress-related illnesses than those who had not.
These stressful experiences included things such as serious illness, injury, burglary, job loss and financial difficulties. Participants recorded the amount of time in the previous 12 months they had spent helping out friends, relatives and neighbours. The helpful tasks recorded included running errands, helping with housework, babysitting and providing transport.
Michael J. Poulin of the University of Buffalo said: “Our conclusion is that helping others reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality.”
When the research team adjusted for baseline health, age and key psychological variables the Cox proportional hazard models (common methods used for survival analysis) for mortality showed a significant interaction between stressful events, helping behaviour, mortality and morbidity.
The study highlights that while it is widely known that stress and social isolation have significant impacts on health, research hasn’t established if receiving support from others does help to protect individuals from stress in the same way as the ‘givers’.
So next time you see someone struggling with a heavy bag up the stairs, give them a hand – your health will thank you for it.
If you want some advice on how to live a healthier life while contributing more to society, it could be helpful to speak to a life coach. for more information, please see our Personal Development page.
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