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How Helping Others Can Boost Our Own Wellbeing

By on June 17, 2018 in Mood and Depression with 0 Comments

If you are suffering from mental health problems, it is often difficult to fathom that you could actually help others. Depression and anxiety have a tricky way of clouding our thoughts and the overriding feeling is that you are already finding your day-to-day life difficult, let alone trying to help someone. Often the overwhelming feeling is that you are the one needing help.

It is true that you should seek help if you are suffering from poor mental health. A firm network of friends and family can do wonders for your well-being and a professional like a doctor and counselor can prescribe medication and therapy. that could pave your way to healthy and fulfilling lives. Helping others is the next step of the healing process and could give a whole plethora of benefits to our well being.

Young people hold hands in solidarity

Helping others and mental wellbeing

Helping others feels good.

Have you ever had that warm feeling in your chest after you’ve helped someone? You feel this effusive glow followed by a sense of calm and control. Not only will you feel happy, you will also have a connection and a shared moment with the person you help. Helping others does feel good. It releases endorphins, lower our stress levels and alleviate depression. The more positive interactions we have through helping others, the better effect they will have on our well being.

Happiness is contagious

Often when we help others, the positive effect is twofold. Both you and recipient of your help will gain that warm, fuzzy feelings from all that endorphins and it will put the both of you in good mood. Who knows? Perhaps the person you helped may choose to pay your kindness forward and help another person. Think of how wonderful it is that you may have been the trigger to that chain of happiness.

Helping others gives you perspective

Besides the feel-good factor, helping others shifts the focus away from ourselves For that particular moment, we are not living inside our heads and worrying about our problems. It gives our mind respite. Helping others can also lead to a change in perspective. We will discover, just like us, others are also going through their own struggles. It could inspire you or at the very least, demonstrate that you are not alone. This shift in focus and change in perspective can help us towards better mental health.

This fascinating lecture by Lara Aknin offers a compelling argument for the ways in which helping others and volunteering can boost our own mental health:

Helping others gets you out of your comfort zone.

Often, in offering help, we are looking outwards and stepping out of our comfort zone. You are reaching out to others or putting yourself out there in a very different environment. The mere act itself should already give you a confidence boost. If you are fundraising by doing a sporting challenge, it gives you a goal to work towards to, that will do wonders for your self-esteem.

How to help others

There are myriad ways to help others. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture nor does it have to be about raising loads of money for charity. Even the smallest gesture can have a lasting effect. All it usually need is a little bit of thought and your time.

The adage charity begins at home is true. Random acts of kindness to those around you can trigger that same sense of wellbeing. It can be as simple as tidying up or doing chores without being asked, preparing a special meal or treating a friend or family to the movies.

Another way to help is by contributing to a good cause. It could be money in the form of a donation but if you don’t have the means to do so, there are other ways. You can help by talking about the cause to your friends and family or publicising any events coming up. You can also make small changes in your spending habits like buying goods that helped towards your cause.

Volunteering is a marvelous way to give something back to the community. The beauty of volunteering is there are so many types of charities or community groups out there who would appreciate a little help. You will only need to commit a few hours when it suits you. If the idea of setting aside a chunk of time feels a little overwhelming, you can look out for ‘speed volunteer’ opportunities. Often these are quick one-off opportunities, like being a fundraising event marshall or manning a booth, which should take less than a day’s commitment.

Before you offer help as a volunteer

Like many things, the first step is always to reflect on ourselves. Is there a cause that is close to your heart? Is there something that you feel passionate about? Maybe you love dogs. Maybe supporting education and empowering women is something you care about. Or perhaps you are keen on gardening. The point is there are many charities and community organizations that support all types of causes great and small. You’ll find it easy to identify one that will suit you.

Secondly, think of what skills you can offer. Are you a whizz with computers? Perhaps you can offer your great IT skills to help a charity or community to build up their social media presence or do administrative work. Even an hour stuffing envelopes for a charity will be greatly appreciated. Are you good in the kitchen? Perhaps you can help in a community or soup kitchen. Often this includes hosting and chatting to those who Can you bake? Coffee morning with cakes are a great way to fundraise for a charity. Are you handy with tools and a DIY guru? There are many charities, especially those helping the aged and disabled who could use handyman services for their clients.

Lastly, be realistic about how much you could offer. Volunteering or helping others should be a positive and enriching experience. It shouldn’t be something that forced or affect you beyond the times you spent in the role. Often in wanting to help, we may overextend ourselves and take on unrealistic physical or emotional burden. It is important to look out for signs of burnout and take time to self-care. A good voluntary organization should ensure that they match the volunteers to the right role and you have ample support to carry out your duties.

In conclusion, there are many benefits in helping others. Not only are you alleviating another person’s problems, you are also gaining better mental health and well-being at the same time. However, we have to be realistic about what we could offer and look at our own self-care. With the right support, you can help others and reap the benefits of good mental well-being for a long time to come.

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About the Author

About the Author: Tom Andrews BSc is the editor of He devotes his time to psychology and mental health research and also enjoys climbing, hiking, and team sports. Tom is a contributor to several other highly regarded health magazines and blogs.


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