Healing

The Magic of Helping Others

18 posts in this topic

Sometimes, when you just can't feel OK, can't get comfortable, can't get a break from the awful neuro-emotions, one thing to try is to look for someone else on SA who is having a hard time and to compose a post to them. Look into their history (from their other posts) a tiny bit -- not for hours -- just to get a sense of who they are and what's up for them right now.

 

This has worked for me sometimes. When I have tried everything else and am still basically miserable. At least I get the sense that I am contributing something to somebody. And, sometimes, I'm surprised that I have a thought that might be useful. And it increases the cohesion of the board, and strengthens us as a group. Also, the people you respond to are then more likely to respond to you in the future.

 

If you don't feel you can even think about someone else's puzzle at the moment, even a simple, "I'm thinking of you, praying for you, rooting for you" makes a big difference.

 

This is not the be all and end all. It's not the answer to all your suffering. But, it's a tool in your toolkit that you can try when other things aren't working.

 

This is not always possible and I'm a big believer in sometimes you just need to let yourself fall apart (temporarily) and not do *anything*, much less think about others.

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This is so true.

 

Thinking and caring for others not only helps us get out of ourselves, the good feelings help stimulate neurogenesis. When you show compassion for others, you help yourself.

 

And getting interested, showing concern, and asking questions helps build relationships. Feeling like you have friends helps your brain recover, too.

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Thinking and caring for others not only helps us get out of ourselves, the good feelings help stimulate neurogenesis. When you show compassion for others, you help yourself, too.

 

And getting interested, showing concern, and asking questions helps build relationships. Feeling like you have friends helps your brain recover, too.

 

 

I agree... especially about helping others helps us get out of ourselves. It's amazing. A friend had surgery and I went over to her place to help her out, did errands, etc. When I was driving home, I realized how really good it made me feel.

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This topic was:

 

Support your fellow SA members

A trick to help when you're feeling awful

 

It just got a title upgrade! :)

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Giving of yourself not only helps others, it makes you feel good, too.

 

Helping Others Is Good For Your Health: An Interview with Stephen G. Post, PhD

 

By Therese J. Borchard Associate Editor 05/28/11 Psychcentral.com

 

Mahatma Gandhi once said that “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I have benefited from that advice, for sure, especially in the months that I was crawling out of a very severe depression.

 

An expert on the perks that come with helping others is bestselling author Stephen G. Post, author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get us Through Hard Times (Jossey-Bass, 2011). He is Professor of Preventive Medicine, Heard of the Division of Medicine in Society, and Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University. Visit him on his website at www.stephengpost.com/hiddengifts.

 

I have the privilege of conducting an exclusive interview with him for the readers of Psych Central.

 

1. What are some of the proven health benefits of giving oneself to others?

 

Dr. Post: In light of our experience, I was struck by the 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey (www.VolunteerMatch.org) of 4,500 American adults. 41 percent of Americans volunteered an average of 100 hours a year. 68 percent of those who volunteered reported that it made them feel physically healthier; 89% that it “has improved my sense of well-bring” and 73% that it “lowered my stress levels.” Not bad! It worked for us.

 

The therapeutic benefits of helping others have long been recognized by everyday people. This concept was first formalized in a highly cited and often reprinted article by Frank Riessman that appeared in 1965 in Social Work. Riessman defined the “helper therapy” principle on the basis of his observations of various self-help groups, where helping others is deemed absolutely essential to helping oneself. These are grassroots groups that nowadays involve tens of millions of Americans.

 

As the saying goes, “if you help someone up the hill, you get closer yourself.” Whether the group is focused on weight loss, smoking cessation, substance abuse, alcoholism, mental illness and recovery, or countless other needs, a defining feature of the group is that people are deeply engaged in helping one another, and are in part motivated by an explicit interest in their own healing.

 

2. Why does something as simple as just thinking about helping offer physical benefits?

 

Dr. Post: In one famous study that has been replicated, study subjects are given a list of charities to which they might contribute. They are wearing an fMRI device that shows where the brain is active. When they decide to contribute to a particular item on the list and check a box next to it, the mesolimbic pathway lights up. This is area of the brain associated with joy and the release of feel good chemicals like dopamine.

 

This reward mechanism is deeply evolved, and is probably related to the fact that helping behavior is so important for the survival of groups. As Darwin pointed out, sympathy is evolutionarily advantageous because it is the basis of the altruism and prosocial helping that allows any tribe or group to flourish and survive. A lot of writing these days is on “group selection,” which explains human nature in ways that “individual selection” (the purely gladiatorial image of conflict between individuals) does not.

 

3. What are some ways that people can make helping others a daily practice?

 

Lots of things can help. Of course meditation, which deflects attention away from self. Adherence to moral principle, such as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” can be important. Being part of a community of volunteers is useful, as is being around good role models and the right friends.

 

But more practically, we should focus our efforts on some needful group that we feel called toward. For me this is the deeply forgetful (people with dementia), and I have been involved in providing caregiver respire for many years. Also, we should help in a way that uses our talents and skills optimally. This allows people to feel effective.

 

....

 

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/05/28/helping-others-is-good-for-your-health-an-interview-with-stephen-g-post-phd/

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Bumping -- this is important for us all to remember. Pay it forward -- help others in gratitude for the help you have received.

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"The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up." -- Mark Twain

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Bumping -- because this is something everyone who can post can do. No matter how bad you feel, cheer someone else up on this site.

 

Everyone likes to see encouraging messages -- and it makes BOTH of you feel better.

 

Read this related topic Compassion Therapy.

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I'm bumping this again -- it's so important.

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Helping others really does help oneself.

 

Back in 2003, I got a back injury at my job as a nurse's aide. I was in so much pain I thought I'd never walk again, but after a month of physical therapy I knew I was going to be more or less restored, except for lifting heavy objects. My Physical Therapist wanted me to go back to work part time just to stay in the habit of working, but I hated the job - and it was a good thing I didn't go back because I also had an undiagnosed partially fractured pelvis. Doctors, again.

 

Just to keep Ken, the P.T., happy, I volunteered at my church's food pantry instead of returning to my job. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life. I worked at the food pantry two half days a week, and in between, made up a social services reference file and wrote grant proposals, some of which actually brought in money.

 

Speaking of which, I was barely getting by on the skimpy Workers' Comp checks, but this was one of the happiest periods of my life. I ate inexpensive but healthy meals (a lot of homemade soup and sandwiches), shopped the library book sales (25 cents per paperback), and the thrift stores. When I was ready to go back to work, the minister's wife gave me glowing a recommendation which led to the job from which I retired, the best paying job I've ever had.

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This seems to be the only thing giving me temporary relief from anxiety/depression...

focus on kindness and compassion to yourself and others... focus on the qualities of your BEST self...

I found a helpful meditation  by Dan Roberts a cognitive therapist... google "developing kindness and compassion"... or , if anyone is interested , I can summarize it here.

Blessings to all who share this journey ...

xoxo

findingme

 

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After a long year of awful depression taking over, it's now that I know to focus on my life of compassion over cruelty.

 

All the best and sending positive vibes your way.

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I find often that even in receiving we give to others and certainly in giving we receive and on and on it goes.

 

Yes, positive vibes to all.

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You reap what you sow

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Great  thread! I'm helping to take care of my sick grandma next week. Although my main intention is to help her, this seems to help me on so many levels too.

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I know pracite meta meditation of buddhismu to  be able to connect to people even if I get paranoid during my withdrawel. I hope to remember that even if there is any bad intention towards me those people are same as me and we all want to be happy and kind. I also try to remember this when I am angry at shrinkers and psychiatric workers, because I am really angry and they seem to me often completely inhuman. Like tibetian monks toward chinesse opressor I try to see the light and struggle in their hearts and be compassionate. Because the angryness caused me some problems several times. One must be diplomatic and carefull not to get in to trouble when dealing with mental health system.

Also, I am a social worker and I think one of the reason why I survived the last ten years on strong psychiatric drugs is the fact that I had to wake up every day and go to work help others. This is some basic instinct which helps us survive even in the midst of hell. I hope that this will help me also during the last part of the withdrawel, and I am happy that on the lower dose I am more able to feel others needs.

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This is a lovely thought and advice. I will try to put it into practice more frequently. 

 

:)

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