Feeling Down? Do a Good Deed, Study Says

September 10, 2020

If the pandemic and 2020 mayhem have you feeling blue, find ways to help others, whether through your business or personal interests. Helping other people can not only make you feel good, it also has the potential to improve your physical and mental health, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

However, not all good deeds are equally as beneficial to the giver, the study finds. The boost to your health depends on factors such as the type of giving, as well as the giver’s age, gender, and other demographic factors that may have an influence.

The study, appearing in the journal Psychological Bulletin, was compiled from a meta-analysis of 201 independent studies covering more than 198,000 participants.

Bryant P.H. Hui, the study’s lead author and research assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, found that random acts of kindness—such as helping an older neighbor carry groceries—tends to be more strongly associated with overall well-being than more formal pro-social behavior, such as scheduled volunteering for a charity. Researchers posit that helping informally in casual and spontaneous ways can more easily lead to forming social connections. Also, this more spontaneous form of giving tends to be varied and less likely to become monotonous to the giver.

Researchers also found some demographic differences in the effects of giving. For example, they found that younger givers tended to report higher levels of eudaemonic well-being (which means realizing one’s potential and finding meaning in life), as well as greater psychological functioning. Older givers, on the other hand, reported higher levels of physical health from giving back. Women also tended to show stronger relationships after doing good deeds, more so than men.

REALTORS® are no strangers to volunteering. Sixty-six percent of REALTORS® say they volunteer monthly, according to National Association of REALTORS®’ Community Aid and Real Estate Report. The majority volunteer within their communities and 17% volunteer with their REALTOR® association at either a local, state, or national level. Eighty-two percent of members donate annually to nonprofits.

Get inspired by the charitable acts of others in real estate through the Good Neighbors program.