Physical and Mental Effect of Helping Others

Have you ever delivered a gift on a birthday or holiday, sat and watched the person open it, and felt your heart enlarge a little when you saw the joy on their face? How about completing a volunteer project and feeling a sense of satisfaction that brings the same feeling as if have just completed a long workout? There is a reason for that. Many researchers have found that people who give of their time to help others through community and organizational involvement have greater self esteem, are less depressed and have lower stress levels than those who don’t. In general, people who take the time to show compassion and caring for others are happier people. The good news is there are even more physical and mental effects.

Volunteering and participating in good deeds for the benefit of others, rather than ourselves, is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Not only does it benefit the person on the receiving end, but it is the gift that keeps on giving. Many research studies have shown repeatedly that the health and mental benefits of those that participate in volunteer activities include; boosting physical and mental health, lower blood pressure, increased self esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, longer life, and greater happiness and satisfaction.

People often ask me why I spend so many hours involved in the Bring Smiles to Seniors program. The most common question is, “Do you ever sleep”? The answer is yes, and quite well I might add. As I often tell people, working a full time job and running a nonprofit is hard and often tough work. I also tell them that my day job feeds my stomach, and my nonprofit feeds my soul. I truly believe that my involvement in giving back to the community has resulted in all those things listed above.

Years ago, I took blood pressure and depression medicine. I didn’t feel so great about myself. Exercise and meditation weren’t even near being a part of my daily routine and stress was definitely out of control. Working to make the lives of others better has had an effect on all of those things. Today, I am much more calm than in the past. My blood pressure is normal. My stress levels have decreased dramatically. I am definitely a much happier and more satisfied person. The same has been heard from many of the people that participate in the Bring Smiles to Seniors program.

People have been kind enough to write me or send emails to let me know what the program has done for them. Individuals who were looking for purpose and meaning in the their life have found it. Those who were depressed or even suicidal have found an outlet to connect their life to something positive that has given them a reason to get up every morning. When all that culminates with the friendship, help, sharing and love that people are experiencing every day as a part of our groups, the prescription for many of the things listed above have been written and filled.

People often think volunteering and giving back takes money. That is far from the case. For those that desire to be involved, there is always a way to do so, without placing a financial burden that would cause unneeded stress. If you have been looking for that purpose and just can’t seem to find it, find something in your community where you can make a difference. Even the smallest effort can help boost that physical and mental health that we all strive for.


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