THIRTEEN WAYS TO BE NICER

Even when you really don't feel like it. If the foot shaking under the table doesn't give you away, then the gum snapping certainly does: You're anxious. And however you cope with your anxiety -- or don't -- recent research reveals an all-natural fix: Being nice. Turns out that good deeds, or kind acts, can make socially anxious people feel a whole lot better. For four weeks, University of British Columbia researchers assigned people with high levels of anxiety to do kind acts for other people at least six times a week. The acts of kindness included things like holding the door open for someone, doing chores for other people, donating to charity, and buying lunch for a friend, says study author Lynn Alden, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. The researchers found that doing nice things for people led to a significant increase in people's positive moods. It also led to an increase in relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance. "People who engage in kind acts become happier over time," says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Why? "When you're kind to others, you feel good as a person -- more moral, optimistic, and positive," she says. So whether you suffer from anxiety, or just need a way to boost your mood, here are 13 everyday ways to do something nice for someone -- and make yourself feel better in the process:

  1. Buy a co-worker her favorite Starbucks frap next time you stop for morning coffee.
  2. When you're driving, let someone merge into your lane.
  3. Offer to stay late and help cleanup at your friend's party.
  4. Smile and make eye contact with people in the grocery store.
  5. Pay the toll for the person in the car behind you.
  6. Baby-sit for your neighbor's kids while she takes a nap.
  7. Make small talk with the cashier at your dry cleaner.
  8. Let someone go ahead of you in line at the movies.
  9. Visit family members you haven't seen in awhile.
  10. Volunteer to run an errand for a busy co-worker.
  11. Drive a friend to the airport.
  12. Give a genuine compliment to someone.
  13. Over-tip your waiter.