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Mental Health

Research: Small Everyday Pleasures Make a Big Difference

How effective are everyday stress management techniques in helping keep a person healthy? How strongly do everyday happy events affect you?

Let’s take  look at one of my favorite studies!

One study indicates that a small pleasant everyday event boosts the immune system for two days, while a small, everyday stressful event depresses the immune system for about a day.

Dr. Arthur Stone, a psychologist at Stonybrook University, conducted a research study with about 100 men.

Dr. Stone found that the uplifting effects of a social gathering on Monday will last until Wednesday, But a stressful event, such as being criticized at work, will negatively affect the immune system for only a day.

The study focused on the effects of ordinary, smaller life events on everyday life, not on long term or sudden, acute stressful or joyful events.

The men recorded in a diary their everyday pleasures, such as socializing, or pursuing a hobby such as fishing. They recorded fun get togethers with friends and family. The men also recorded stressful events, such as too much of a workload, everyday hassles, sick as chores and critical bosses.

Their immune response was measured by daily samples of their saliva.

Dr. Stone found the happy social events and the pursuit of relaxing hobbies, such as fishing, engendered the best immune response boost, keeping a positive response boost for two days!

The negative criticism depressed the immune reponse for a day.

Interestingly, when the men reported cold symptoms, there had been an increase in stressors three to five days before the cold symptoms came out, which is the incubation period for the cold virus.

But what was most interesting was that a drop in pleasurable events predicted a cold more readily than an increase in negative events! 

While this study is a small sample size and doesn’t measure the effects of long-term and acute stress on immune function it’s a great way to remember to be aware of how to live life on a daily basis!

Remember you strongly affect the people around you on a daily basis, and your life makes a big difference!

Some things you can do to help your self and others:

  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Cook a nice meal for your family, light some candles and sit down without electronic devices
  • Invite some friends over for tea
  • Walk your dog and chat with people you meet along the way
  • Have your coffee break with a friends
  • Hold the door for someone at the grocery store
  • Laugh
  • Smile
  • Be kind
  • Keep up your hobbies (gardening, bicycling, pinging, sewing, woodworking, etc.)
  • Be pleasant at work

 

Remember you really do make a difference!

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By Kathy Morelli

Licensed Professional Counselor Specializing in Holistic Positive Psychology

2 replies on “Research: Small Everyday Pleasures Make a Big Difference”

Such an interesting study. We are social animals and having positive social interactions are not only good for our emotions but also our immune response. They say that drinking a light glass of red wine a day is good for the heart, but I have an Italian friend who stipulates that it is the social interaction that accompanies the wine that is doing the wonders.
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