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Group Vex Can Be Good for You

Protesting can be mentally and physically beneficial

FRIDAY, Dec. 27, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Go ahead. Get mad as hell and shout that you're not going to take it anymore. It's good for you.

A study by researchers at the University of Sussex in England found that taking part in protests and demonstrations is beneficial to your mental and physical health. The study doesn't say if that still holds true when protesters are assailed by baton-swinging riot police or subjected to clouds of tear gas.

For their study, the researchers did in-depth interviews with about 40 activists from a wide variety of backgrounds who had collectively experienced 160 instances of group action.

The events that the people took part in ranged from fox-hunt sabotages, traditional marches, environmental direct action, anti-capitalist street parties, and industrial mass pickets.

The researchers examined the factors that contributed to the protesters' sense of empowerment and found they were: unity and mutual support within a crowd; a sense of the potential of the movement; and realization of the collective identity.

Especially interesting was that the protesters said they experienced a deep sense of happiness and even euphoria because of their participation in protests.

Some psychologists believe that positive experiences and emotions help promote mental and physical health. Uplifting experiences are associated with a number of indicators of well-bring, including the ability to cope with physical stressors, lower levels of pain, anxiety and depression, and faster physical recovery.

More information

The University of Iowa has information about the health benefits of having a positive attitude.

SOURCE: University of Sussex, news release, December 2002
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