Celebrations can benefit your health and well-being, according to a new study from Indiana University. The experts found that celebrating positive life events and achievements while gathering for food and drink can help you feel more socially supported.
“Despite the ubiquity of celebrations in everyday life, very little is known about how they may contribute to consumer well-being,” wrote the study authors. “In the current work, the authors propose that celebrations promote perceived social support, which prior work has conceptualized as the belief that others will be there for you in future, negative life events.”
According to the researchers, social support is associated with health and well-being outcomes, including increased life-span and decreased anxiety and depression.
“Many celebrations this time of year include two of the three conditions – eating and drinking while gathering together,” said study co-author Professor Kelley Gullo Wight.
“Adding the third condition, making an intentional effort to recognize other’s positive achievements, is key. For example, take the time to congratulate someone for getting accepted to their first-choice university, or a work project that went well, or a new job offer. This will maximize the benefits to your well-being and the well-being of all the attendees at that holiday party.”
Over several years, the researchers used experiments to survey thousands of participants. The study showed that even virtual gatherings can increase perceived social support, as long as everyone has food and drink and they are celebrating positive events.
“We found that when people feel supported socially after a celebration, they’re more ‘pro-social,’ and more willing to volunteer their time or donate to a cause,” said study co-author Professor Danielle Brick. “This would be a good time for non-profits to market donation campaigns, around the time many people are celebrating positive life events, like holidays or graduations.”
The researchers noted that hosting celebrations which increase perceived social support can be especially beneficial at places serving populations more at-risk of loneliness and isolation, like nursing homes or community centers.
The study is published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Editor
Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and Earth.com.