The world needs healing. Can you feel it?
The coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis and social unrest that rippled around the world this year have affected all of us. The events of 2020 so far have shown us the system is falling apart at the seams, and centuries of collective grief and pain are pouring out.
Although a Grief Playbook doesn't actually exist, many try to create one for sanity's sake in a world that has seemingly become a tad crazier than normal. Divisiveness and political correctness gone amuck. Trauma is everywhere. Old wounds are coming to light while new ones are being created, and the emotional rollercoaster we call life still continues against the backdrop of what seems to be an impending catastrophe.
If you're overwhelmed, you're not alone. No matter whether you're facing grief, illness, financial loss, or are simply worried about the future, others are going through the same. These scary and unprecedented times affect the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of everyone on the planet. A knee-jerk reaction may be to withdraw from the world for protection and to focus on yourself and your family.
Society has taught us to separate ourselves from one another, but we are stronger when we stand together. In fact, helping one another may be the only way to survive these stormy times. It is time to break down the walls that separate us and stitch the seams of society back together by supporting one another.
You may be thinking "That sounds great, but I don't have the time or energy to give back." But what if I told you helping others has been proven to have healing benefits and can actually help you overcome adversity? A 2018 study found that volunteering has benefits for both physical and mental health, as it helps protect against both mental illness and chronic disease.
So, in case you need a little motivation to start giving back, here are the top 4 benefits of helping others.
1. Helping Others Helps You Live Longer
Research shows that volunteering relieves stress and boosts your mood, both of which contribute to better health and greater longevity. Spending time helping others also combats loneliness, which has been shown to be as dangerous as smoking and to have a strong correlation with chronic disease and premature death.
Researchers believe that the physical activity involved in volunteering is also beneficial to overall physical and mental well-being.
2. The Ripple Effect
Kindness is contagious. Think about it, when someone helps you, it puts a smile on your face, and you want to pay it forward and help someone else. We pick up on the emotions of others, so if you put an angry vibe into the world, you're creating more anger. That means the more kindness you put out, the more kindness you create. If each of us helped just one other each day, it would create a ripple effect that could reach thousands of people, sending healing waves all around the planet.
3. Helping Others Makes You Happy (if done for the right reasons)
Think about the last time you helped someone. How did you feel afterward? Helping others can give you the kind of inside-out glow that doing something for yourself doesn't quite achieve. When you help someone, your brain produces reward hormones like dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, making you feel happy. However, there is one caveat: you must be motivated by true altruism, or you won't receive the benefits. You have to want to help them for the sake of helping them, and not because of how it can help you.
4. Helping Others Gives You a Sense of PurposeHelping others can instill your life with meaning. This can be particularly helpful if you have mental health issues, such as depression, which is often accompanied by feelings of hopelessness. Quite simply, helping others gives you something to live for. With the world crying out for greater social cohesion and collective healing, there may be no better time to help yourself by helping others.
Whether it's volunteering in your local community, helping a neighbor, spending time with an older relative, or performing random acts of kindness, think about ways to give back and start incorporating them into your life. You may be surprised at what happens!
Have you experienced the healing benefits of giving back? How are you going to incorporate more kindness into your life?