Helping others is good for your body as well as your mind. That’s what the article The Science of Helping Out said, anyway. And when the scientists measured the various benefits, they concluded that the giver gains at least as much as the receiver does. Everyone wins when we help each other. How great is that?
So, as Tara Parker-Pope explained, “[t]o help yourself, start by helping others”. But wait. In this time of social distancing and isolation, how can you reach out to other people?
I used to spend a lot of time being an in-person volunteer. My small Canadian city is probably similar to your community: there are plenty of helping and advocacy organizations that scream for people to step up. I volunteered in mine for decades, and I loved it.
My rare disease brought that to an abrupt end. Fatigue crushed me, and chronic pain drove me from being an avid volunteer straight to my recliner. And there I remained for years. My mental health took as much of a beating as anything.
It wasn’t until I discovered Ben’s Friends that it all started to turn around for me. What a surprise that was: the people in the community “got” what I was going through! And they helped me get my head around self-advocacy and becoming proactive. We had more than a few good laughs together as well.
Volunteering in person isn’t possible for many of us these days, the article said. There are rules for physical separation. True, that. But then, as it outlined, there are still some options: lending a listening ear, giving advice, having a phone visit. That made perfect sense.
But it was the quote from Dr. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, THAT SHOUTED OUT at me: “One of the best things that you can do is call someone else facing a similar problem and talk them through it. When you talk other people through their problems, you come up with wiser perspectives and solutions for yourself.”
That, my friend, was the EUREKA! moment: Dr. Grant had just described perfectly what we do every day at Ben’s Friends! Except, of course, that we don’t talk in person. We write and message from behind the anonymity of our screen name.
That explained why spending time at Ben’s Friends had done me a world of good. Many others had talked me through problems that were their problems as well. And doing that had helped them as well as me.
During this uncertain time of social distancing, HDS (Hug Deprivation Syndrome), and closed facilities, how do you volunteer? Bet you’ve never realized that a few minutes of hanging out with your fellow Ben’s Friends community members is real VOLUNTEER work! And that helps you as much as it helps them.
Here you are, just one post away from helping yourself as well as the other members of your community. So go ahead, click “REPLY” below to start the cycle of helping yourself by reaching out to others.
Pope, Tara (2020 April 9). The Science of Helping Out. New York Times. Accessed May 9, 2020.https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/well/mind/coronavirus-resilience-psychology-anxiety-stress-volunteering.html