How Small Acts of Kindness Can Help with Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are significant issues these days, especially among young people. Those who suffer from either can find their work, physical health, and overall sense of well-being compromised. Luckily there are effective treatments for these conditions, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). And a new study suggests there may be another way to gain the mental health benefits of CBT: do random acts of kindness. In the study, researchers found that being kind to others made people less self-conscious in public settings, which, in turn, was tied to less depression and anxiety. “When people engaged in doing things for other people, these prosocial behaviors seemed to attenuate that self-focus that we all get sometimes when we’re in social situations,” said the study’s coauthor Jennifer Cheavens. While researchers are not suggesting that kind acts are a substitute for CBT treatment, people who are in treatment may get some added benefits from engaging in random acts of kindness. If doing so helps people improve social connections, while aiding their symptoms, it’s pretty much a win-win to consider kind acts as an add-on to therapy, said Cheavens.