Most people don’t need an excuse to throw a party — yet it might just be what the doctor ordered.
Recent research suggests that celebrations might benefit our health and well-being, according to a paper published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, a peer-reviewed academic journal put out by the American Marketing Association
The research showed that these celebrations need three components: 1) gathering with other people; 2) having food and drink; and 3) highlighting an important milestone.
Celebrations reinforce participants’ social support and provide reassurance they have a social network when adversity strikes, the study’s press release indicated.
"Buying yourself a congratulatory gift to celebrate an accomplishment just isn’t the same as celebrating with a dinner and drinks with friends,’’ said lead author Danielle Brick, assistant marketing professor at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut, in the study’s press release.
Celebrations don’t necessarily need to be extravagant to be beneficial, Brick told Fox News Digital.
"They just have to mark someone’s positive life event and involve food or drink with other people," added Brick.
Previous research defined "perceived social support" as the belief that people are there for you in times of future adversity.
Perceived social support is associated with a variety of health benefits, including decreased mortality rates, better mental health outcomes, decreased levels of anxiety and depression, decreased heart rate, lower blood pressure and improved quality of sleep.
"Social support has been consistently and repeatedly associated with better physical and mental health (including reducing anxiety and depression) in previous research — and our research contributes knowledge about an important first step to this process," Brick told Fox News Digital.
Although perceived social support consistently leads to positive outcomes, actually receiving support, also known as "enacted support," does not necessarily lead to positive outcomes, according to previous research.
In some cases, receiving support can lead to either no effect or negative effects.
Based on these contradictory findings of perceived and enacted support, the researchers set out to discover how perceptions of social support originate, what influences these perceptions — and why enacted support does not function the same way as perceived social support.
Since celebrations are one common way that people can build perceptions of social support, the researchers focused their study on celebrations.
The researchers performed eight experimental studies on thousands of participants to examine why celebrations are important, Brick said.
From these studies, "We find that celebrations increase social support," she told Fox News Digital.
"That means going out to eat or even making something special at home and eating with other people is enough — as long as you're doing it to highlight someone’s positive life event."
Virtual celebrations will also work, as long as they involve the three important components: 1) gathering of people; 2) food and drink; and 3) acknowledging a life’s event.
A positive life event "could be a promotion, a successful task completed, the end of a busy week, a birthday, achieving a goal, or anything positive in your life," Brick said.
The study also found that celebrations and increased feelings of social support led participants to want to give back to their community — which suggests the benefits of celebrations extend beyond the people participating in them.
One limitation of the study, Brick noted, was that the research focused on shared consumption in the form of food and drink.
"We don’t know if other types of shared consumption besides food and drink — like going to a concert together with friends to mark a positive life event — would be as effective at increasing social support."
Brick, however, noted that the research suggested some meaningful policy implications.
"Thinking back to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were restricted in our ability to get together with others," she told Fox News Digital.
"This research suggests that policymakers should be aware of the downsides of limiting celebrations — and highlight ways to effectively celebrate with others."
Nursing homes and community centers may also consider hosting celebrations for those who are at risk of loneliness and isolation, per the release.
After a celebration, those who feel supported are more willing to volunteer or donate to a cause — so this can help fundraising, marketing and the organization of institutional and community events, the release added.
"This would be a good time for nonprofits to market donation campaigns, around the time many people are celebrating holidays, graduations, weddings and other big events," Brick noted in the press release.