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Overcome Stress and Anxiety
— By Giving It to the Boss


Hit the bricks to protest corporate greed. Rally for peace. Take a hike for justice.

For physical and mental health, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

According to a study by psychologists at the University of Sussex, people who become involved in strikes, campaigns and political demonstrations experience an improvement in well-being. This, in turn, can help them overcome stress, pain, anxiety and depression.

"Collective actions, such as protests, strikes, occupations and demonstrations, are less common in the UK than they were perhaps 20 years ago," observes Dr. John Drury, the lead researcher.

"The take-home message from this research therefore might be that people should get more involved in campaigns, struggles and social movements, not only in the wider interest of social change but also for their own personal good," says the University of Sussex social psychologist.

The psychologists derived their results from in-depth interviews with a number of activists from a variety of backgrounds. Between them, they had more than 160 experiences of collective action, involving groups of demonstrators involved in union and environmental protests, among others.

The volunteers described for the researchers why taking part in collective action made them feel good.

"Many published activist accounts refer to feelings of encouragement and confidence emerging from experiences of collective action," said Dr. Drury. "But it is not always clear how and why such empowerment occurs, so we aimed to explain what factors within a collective action event contribute to such feelings."

The psychologist said the interviews revealed that the key factors were that participants felt they had a collective identity with fellow protesters. They also derived a sense of unity and mutual support from taking part.

So strong were these feelings experienced in collective action that they appear to be sustained over a considerable period of time.

"Empowering events were almost without exception described as joyous occasions," said Drury. "Participants experienced a deep sense of happiness and even euphoria in being involved in protest events. Simply recounting the events in the interview brought a smile to the face of the interviewees."

In other words, don’t take stress from the boss — give it out. Add years to life by protesting the employer’s unfairness.

The path to bliss is that march against profit-driven globalization — and the life, and job, you save may be your own.

UE News - 1/03

Home -> UE News -> 2003 Archives -> Article

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