*This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click through and make a purchase I may receive a commission at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Scientific evidence shows that helping others benefits your mental health, as well as the people you are giving aid to. It does not seem to matter whether your help is financial, or if it is your time or energy you give, it just makes you feel better to help people that are not as fortunate as you. Here are just some of the facts scientists have come up with.
When other people see someone doing a good deed, it encourages them to do the same. It can have a domino effect and end up with lots of people helping in their community. This helps to foster more of a community spirit and inspire dozens of people to become involved. These not only helps the people that need it, but it also promotes a happier and less troublesome community.
One study tracked 2000 people over five years and found that the happiest ones were the ones that volunteered their services for between 5 and 6 hours each month. This could be because they were physically active for this time, but it is more likely because they feel they are giving something back and that gives them a mental boost.
This is certainly the case for Cynthia Telles, who has dedicated her whole life to helping others. She has inspired many people to follow in her footsteps, just as she followed in those of her parents and grandparents. Her work in caring for people with mental health problem has been used to promote better healthcare for them, and even the White House has listened to her advice when presidents Obama and Clinton were in power.
When you suffer from blood pressure problems, your doctor has probably told you to try and avoid stressful situations, as well as altering your diet. You could help to manage your stress by adding something different to your routine. Volunteering to help others can be a great stress leveler, and in turn, this will help to control your blood pressure.
One piece of research showed that in older people that helped others for 200 hours each year, they were less likely to need blood pressure medication. There are several reasons cited for this. It could be that helping others relieves some of their loneliness, which can be stressful in itself. The extra social opportunities that helping others affords, can be a huge help for people in this situation.
The scientists were able to show that teenagers who volunteered had fewer problems at school and achieved better grades. It can also help to promote a better self-image for them.
As families grow up and leave homes, some parents can feel they no longer have a purpose. Of course, they are not the only ones to feel this way, but helping others can help to put some purpose back into their lives and aid in lifelong self-improvement. Studies have shown that volunteering enhances a day-to-day existence and will make the individual feel they have a new life-defining role.
One study looked at people who suffered chronic pain and helped people in a similar situation. They found that the helper’s symptoms became less severe on the days they were helping others to cope with similar problems. It is thought this is because in helpers others they pushed their own problems to the back of their minds, and they then became less obvious.
Think about volunteering as a sports coach at a local school, about serving meals in a soup kitchen or maybe helping to parcel food at a food bank. These activities and many other volunteer roles keep you active and that activity helps to keep you healthier. It seems that volunteers are more able to handle stressful situations, they fight disease off better, suffer from less mental health problems and have an increased sense of satisfaction with their lives. All of these factors contribute to better mental and physical health, which means volunteers are likely to live longer.
All the studies carried out showed the same results. No matter what way you help those less fortunate than yourself; it will promote a feeling of well being in the person that donates their time or money. It does not need many hours each month for this to work, or huge amounts of money. A couple of hours each week can be enough to help the needy and those volunteering.