Do you believe that being kind could relieve anxiety? Researchers Jennifer Trew and Lynn Alden of the University of British Columbia might have suspected this was a possibility.
Recently the two did an experiment involving 115 socially anxious university students. The students were divided into three groups. Each group had a different directive.
The first group of students were required to perform 3 acts of kindness two days a week for four weeks.
The acts of kindness included activities like washing a room mate’s dishes, mowing a neighbour’s lawn and donating to charity.
The second group was required to insert themselves into a social situation (after taking several deep breaths to calm them down). These insertions could include actions like asking a stranger for the time, or asking someone to lunch.
The third group? Was asked to journal about personal events.
At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that people in the first group had less instances of avoiding social interaction due to fear of rejection.
This makes sense to me, since asking someone to lunch, someone you don’t know very well seems somewhat risky in terms of the possibility of being rejected, whereas asking your room mate if she’d like you to do her dishes? Is hardly a thing anyone would say ‘no’ to. And the room mate is likely to look more favorably on you after you’ve cleaned up her scullery debris, whereas the person you asked to lunch? Might be avoiding you so they don’t have to let you down again.
So, Aspies, to improve your sense of social connectedness and ease your way into social situations, try an act of kindness. Why not?
Then you can work your way up to asking the recipients of your kindness out to lunch.