If you want to live longer, then do something nice – for someone else! That’s the takeaway of a new study in the American Journal of Public Health. It tracked more than 800 adults who’d been through major stressful events, like losing a job, or a loved one. And the study found that people who did good deeds for others were less likely to die from any cause within five years of a stressful event. But for those who rarely did nice things for other people, each stressful event they experienced raised their risk of dying by up to 30 percent.
In other words, karma is real! And according to psychologist Dr. Michael Poulin, who led the new study, the results make sense. Because when we focus our attention on someone else’s wellbeing, it takes our mind off our own problems. That reduces our stress levels. And many studies show that stress is a common trigger for a lot of health problems – from heart disease to cancer.
Here’s the best part: Dr. Poulin says you don’t have to save the world to reap the benefits of a good deed. Instead, try doing things that are simple, enjoyable, and within your own skill set. Here are a few examples:
Give someone a ride. It doesn’t matter whether it’s taking a neighbor to a doctor’s appointment, or being the designated driver on girl’s night out.
Pack a co-worker’s lunch. The next time you have dinner leftovers, pack two lunch bags instead of one, and offer the other to someone at work who’d normally buy fast food.
Offer your professional skills to a good cause. Like if you have skills in photography, writing, or Web design, there are lots of nonprofit organizations that could use your help. To find a list of organizations that need a hand with current projects, go to CatchAFire.org.