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A new study published in Communication Research sought to find out what types of conversations people need to have, and how often they should have them, in order to improve their well-being. The researchers found that having at least one conversation with a friend can increase happiness and lower stress levels by the end of each day.
“While other research on well-being focuses on things like grateful thoughts or journaling, my focus as a researcher is about what we can do in our interactions to improve our well-being. Jeffrey Hall from VICE spoke out to say that this gives them a useful list of activities people could do to make their day better.
Previous research showed that talking about one’s problems can reduce stress, strengthen our immune system, and reduce physical and emotional distress, but this study suggests that people don’t necessarily need to bond over their misery.
Hall’s team identified seven communication types that can be found in social interaction: talking about one’s problems, having meaningful conversations, laughing, sharing your feelings, being kind, giving compliments, and listening.
The researchers recruited over 900 participants and instructed each to engage in any one of the seven types of communication on a given day. While some participants completed the tasks via phone or online chats, most did them face-to-face. Participants were asked to report how they felt at the end of each day. This was measured in terms of feelings such as stress, anxiety, well being, loneliness, or connection.
Results showed that engaging in any of the seven communication types at least once a day was enough to improve people’s well-being. It increased the sense of connection and reduced stress.
“This means the more that you listened to your friends, the more that you showed care, the more that you took time to value others’ opinions, the better you felt at the end of the day,” Hall told the University of Kansas.
While one conversation was good enough to increase well-being, there are ways to make people feel even better–participants who had more than one quality conversation with friends reported better days. Conversations had in-person were also more closely associated with well-being than digital contact.
“The results demonstrate that while engaging in these episodes and behaviors to any extent is beneficial, engaging in them more frequently and face-to-face are independently beneficial,” wrote the researchers.
A previous study by Hall suggests that phone calls are as good as in-person interactions in most cases. Hall found that texts and other social media contacts were not as beneficial to daily well-being in this study. They’re simply not a substitute for quality, in-person communication. However, you shouldn’t stop sending messages.
” The big caveat to this is that texting/DM can be better than no. Hall stated that texting/DM is more effective than having to choose between being alone and texting back and forth, particularly when someone is feeling the most isolated.
Hall believes that it is important to take more care of their relationships.
“Friendship is important. It takes effort to build friendship. Friendships don’t just happen–you have to be intentional,” Hall said.
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The post It Takes Only One Conversation a Day To Feel Better, Study Finds appeared first on VICE.