Kindness Trumps Anxiety

Isn't it funny how you can be totally confident performing for a full house, but the thought of walking into a summer intensive class where you don't know anyone fills you with nerves? Or maybe you feel fine spending time with your best friend, but you feel anxious when you're with a larger group from your studio.

According to a new study, there's a very easy (and just plain nice) way to reduce social anxiety. Research published in the journal Motivation and Emotion found that acts of kindness can help reduce the avoidant behavior that comes with feeling socially anxious. Anxious people are more likely to avoid social situations because they fear negative outcomes like rejection. In the study, researchers assigned socially anxious college students to one of three groups to test different methods for reducing anxiety over a period of four weeks.

The result? The students who performed acts of kindness, like doing a roommate's dishes or making a donation to a charity, had the most positive results, experiencing lower levels of anxiety and becoming less likely to avoid social situations. Next time you're feeling wary, the solution might be as simple as complimenting the girl next to you at the barre or offering to go over tricky choreography with a fellow dancer. Don't underestimate the power of positive energy.

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