Have you ever checked social media and found yourself overwhelmed after reading a tragic news story? If so, you are not alone, as the American Psychological Association has found that over half of all Americans feel defeated due to news they read. Although they do acknowledge that staying informed about news and current affairs is important, the constant barrage of information has caused many to feel anxious, fatigued, and sleepless.
Although we certainly cannot escape it, the good news is that there is a proper and positive way to process the information. The digital age has not only made it possible for us to learn about what’s going on more quickly than ever, but it has also opened doors for us to be able to help out — which means that we don’t have to stop at simply being aware. Instead, awareness is a golden opportunity to take the next step and help those in need. And aside from our efforts being noticed by those who receive help, your body might appreciate it too.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how helping others is physically and mentally beneficial for our well-being.
- Lowers blood pressure
With 75 million Americans suffering from high blood pressure, it’s important to take care of our cardiovascular health. Did you know that you can do this by giving back? As ICFF pointed out in ‘3 Ways Charitable Giving Can Improve Your Life’, people who are reluctant to give are more likely to develop hypertension, as being stingy causes stress levels to rise. Thankfully, all hope is not lost, as socially supporting others can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, boosting heart health in the process. The researchers also discovered that helping others improves your self-efficacy.
2. Increases life expectancy
Altruism has been attributed to a longer lifespan, as revealed by a study conducted by researchers from the University of Basel. They found that grandparents who cared for their grandchildren and elders who looked after others within their social networks, tend to reap the added benefits of living longer. Despite focusing on a specific age group, the study goes on to state how this health benefit can be extended to all, as caring for others positively affects our longevity.
3. Promotes happiness and reduces stress
Neurologists have learned that generosity forges a great path to a joyful life. Helping others not only releases endorphins — also known as the “happy hormone” — in the brain, but it also makes us appreciative of the life we have. These benefits, though often invisible, can have a powerful effect on your day-to-day life, as Maryville University points to the intricate link between mental health and learning success. This means that helping others keeps us grounded and centered on what truly matters.
- Relieves anxiety and depression
As conversations about mental health are becoming widespread, it is wonderful to learn that altruistic acts can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. In a study released by the Journal of Clinical Psychology, researchers found that these mental health issues can be connected to how you perceive yourself in society. However, when you choose compassion and building lives, your worries and melancholy are less frequent.
Anna Eleanor is the pen name for a teacher and blogger who writes on a variety of topics. For her, the efforts and energies we put out into the world inevitably come back to influence our overall health and well-being. When she’s not researching new ways to help her children and adult students stay healthy, she spends her time meditating, or caring for her urban rooftop herb garden. She is currently preparing to begin a personal blog site in early 2020.