'Tis the season...of stress. No one needs to tell you how anxiety-making it can be to add yet more errands (in crowded malls and parking lots, no less) to your long list of chores. It turns out, though, doing a good deed is a fast way to send those stress hormones (aka cortisol) plummeting, according to a Yale Medical School study.
Doing good can be as simple as holding the elevator for someone. Giving the extra hug to your mother-in-law when you say good-bye. Giving a person directions.
Researchers have known that people who are more altruistic live longer and are happier. But even if you aren't a generally helpful person, pushing yourself to be a little nicer can make you feel better, and act as a buffer against the unpleasant parts of our day.
There may be another reason to act more kindly towards other. Another study, this one from the University of Southern California, found that your risk for dementia goes up a whopping 48 percent if you're an anxious, perpetually frazzled and frantic person. All that cortisol does a number on your brain, shrinking the part that stores memory.
So the next time you feel frantic or frazzled, take a deep breath--and hold the door open for the person behind you.
via NPR.org and EurekAlert!
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