Smile! And Other Ways Being Nice Is Good For Your Health

Shot of a young couple spending time together in the outdoors
Shot of a young couple spending time together in the outdoors

You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you help someone out? Well, it turns out it is also really good for your health. Research shows that being nice can help to reduce anxiety and social avoidance, boost your mood and increase relationship satisfaction. Try these eight health boosting gestures of kindness today.

1. Smile

Flashing your pearly whites can do wonders for your health. According to research from the University of Kansas, smiling lowers your heart rate and reduces stress levels. Not in the mood for a true grin? Then fake it. The same study shows that even if a smile isn't genuine it boosts the happy hormone serotonin in your body, making you feel more positive. And positivity is worth embracing; not only does help you be more productive and efficient at work, it also increases life expectancy by up to 10 years. Now that's a reason to smile.

2. Take the time to talk to people

Instead of firing off another email, walk across the office and actually talk to the person you're dealing with. Face-to-face interaction releases the hormone oxytocin, which boosts your mood and acts as a stress reliever – none of which you get by sitting in front of a keyboard. A University of Illinois study also found that meeting in person creates more trust and effective cooperation than emailing about the same topics.

3. Do a coffee run

Doing a good deed can lower stress levels and boost your immune system. People whose happiness was based on doing something for other people were healthier than those whose happiness was based on selfish pursuits, according to a University of California study. Shouting the coffees makes it a double whammy; new Korean research shows that drinking three to five cups a day reduces the risk of clogged arteries and heart attacks. As if we needed another excuse.

4. Share your playlists

Listening to music can decrease stress hormones, reduce muscle tension and boost immune function, says research from Wilkes University in the United States. Nine out of 10 employees function better when listening to music, with 88 percent of participants producing their most accurate test results and 81 per cent completing their fastest work when music was playing.

5. Let your staff work from home

Letting your employees work outside of the office can boost their health - and yours. Workers who are trusted to produce the goods away from their usual work environment are more efficient and have fewer sick days than those in the office full-time, shows a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology. It will benefit you in the long-term too; workers who feel their job isn't flexible are three times more likely to quit – meaning more stress for you when you're short-staffed.

6. Befriend the new guy

Make it your mission to talk to the guy sitting quietly in the corner. Having a circle of close friends boosts your health more than exercising, losing weight or stopping smoking, say psychologists at the University of Utah. The study showed people had a 50 per cent better survival rate if they belonged to a wider social group. Plus, strong social connections at work boost productivity and job satisfaction, according to an American report.

7. Say thank you

Being grateful boosts your immune system and decreases stress levels, blood pressure and physical health complaints by 15 per cent, according to research in The Journal of Happiness Studies. Being consistently grateful to friends or colleagues increases happiness and life-satisfaction, as well as helping you be more productive and problem-solve more easily.

8. Get your mates together

Group activities mean everyone taking part gets a health boost. Adults who walked in a group for 30 minutes at lunchtime three times a week reported feeling less tired and less stressed after their walk than in the morning, according to research in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. But you don't even need to be active to get a health boost. A meal with friends, family or colleagues is good for you too, while eating on your own increases the risk of obesity shows a US study. Who wants to get lunch?

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