Doing Good Deeds May De-Stress Pharmacy Students

Pharmacy students fighting stress from finals may benefit from lending a helping hand.

Pharmacy students fighting stress from finals may benefit from lending a helping hand.

New findings published in Clinical Psychological Science suggest forming bonds with others can be an effective strategy to reduce stress on your emotional functioning.

Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine used daily diary data in order to investigate whether engaging in prosocial behavior prevented the negative effects of naturally occurring stressors on emotional well-being.

The 77 participants aged between 18 and 44 years received smartphones and were asked to report on their feelings while experiencing daily life for 2 weeks. Every night of the study, participants were prompted through a phone reminder to assess their day.

The participants reported on stressful life events related to interpersonal relationships, work, education, home, finance, health, and accidents.

They also reported their daily prosocial behaviors, like holding a door open, helping with homework, or offering assistance to someone.

Helping others trumped the effects of stress in the participants, the researchers found. Among participants who reported below-typical prosocial behavior, they found lower positive emotion and higher negative emotion.

The participants with high levels of prosocial behaviors showed no reduction of positive emotions or mental health. Instead, they demonstrated lower increased negative emotion in response to daily stressors.

Study author Emily Ansell, PhD, told Pharmacy Times that social support has been examined previously regarding the ways it is able to impact stressors in daily life and laboratory studies.

The researchers knew from previous studies that prosocial behaviors—or activities that assist an acquaintance or stranger—would reduce the effects of stress on physiology, but it was not clear if these effects could be reproduced in the real world, Dr. Ansell said.

She said that prescribing prosocial behaviors may be an option in the future, since these actions could be useful to de-stress patients.