Celebrations can benefit your health and well-being

Happy woman celebration

Perceived social support is an important factor in maintaining good mental health and well-being. Studies have shown that individuals with high levels of perceived social support have better mental and physical health outcomes and are less likely to experience depression, anxiety, and stress.

New research has found that celebrations that highlight achievement can increase perceptions of social support.

New research shows that actively acknowledging positive life events and achievements while gathering for food and drink can increase feelings of social support.

The study, published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, found that celebrations involving a social gathering, food or drink, and the intentional acknowledgment of a positive life event can increase perceived social support. Previous research has shown that perceived social support, or the belief that one has a network of people who care and are available to provide help and support, is associated with improved health and well-being outcomes, such as longer life and less anxiety. and depression.

“Many celebrations this time of year include two of the three conditions — eating and drinking while getting together,” said Kelley Gullo Wight, an assistant professor at Indiana University Kelley School of Business and a co-author of the study. “Adding the third condition, making a deliberate effort to recognize the positive achievements of others, is key. For example, take the time to congratulate someone on being accepted to their first choice university, or a work project that went well, or a new job offer. This maximizes the benefits to your well-being and the well-being of everyone in attendance at that holiday party.

Wight and her co-authors, including Professors Danielle Brick of the University of Connecticut, and James Bettman, Tanya Chartrand and Gavan Fitzsimons of Duke University, used behavioral experiments to survey thousands of participants over several years.

The research revealed that even if gatherings are virtual, if everyone eats and drinks (be it healthy or tasty) and they celebrate positive events, this also increases a person’s perceived social support and they can receive the same good. his benefits from it.

It also has implications for marketing executives or anyone looking to raise money for a good cause.

“We found that when people feel socially supported after a party, they are more ‘pro-social’ and more willing to volunteer or donate their time to charity,” says Danielle Brick, assistant professor marketing at the University of Connecticut and co-author of the study. “Now would be a great time for nonprofits to launch donation campaigns, around the time when many people are celebrating positive life events, such as holidays or graduations.”

The researchers note that organizing celebrations that increase perceived social support may be especially helpful in places where populations are more at risk of loneliness and isolation, such as nursing homes or community centers.

They also note the importance of understanding the well-being benefits of celebrations for policymakers looking to implement rules or measures that could impact social gatherings, such as COVID lockdowns, to prevent negative mental health impacts. They recommend that if organizers need virtual celebrations, they should involve some form of consumption and the marking of a separate, positive life event so that people leave the celebration with a sense of social support.

Reference: “Celebrating Good Times: How Celebrations Increase Perceived Social Support” By Danielle J. Brick, Kelley Gullo Wight, James R. Bettman, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Gavan J. Fitzsimons, December 1, 2022, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.
DOI: 10.1177/07439156221145696

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