By: Lori Hudson Bertrand DC, RN
Last month our email and Facebook accounts were bombarded with reminders to be thankful this holiday season. Hopefully, being grateful isn’t something just practiced around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but put into action throughout the year. I’m sure every one of you can think of something or someone that has enriched your life or touched your heart in some shape or form. The actions of kindness, giving, and loving can change someone’s life forever. After all we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. So in what ways do you plan on helping others this month and in the year to come?
Many people have reported euphoric feelings, much like the physical sensations you get after working out, when we help another person. This “feel good” reaction can be compared to emotional wellbeing. A. Luks & P. Payne, authors of The Healing Power of Doing Good, states, almost all helpers describe specific sensations that occur when helping others: warmth, euphoria, increased energy, and positive emotional and physical wellbeing result initially when helping others. These sensations can all describe what is called, the “helpers high”. This state is most likely linked to an endorphin release in the blood. Endorphins are opiates that occur naturally within the body can aid in reducing pain and promoting sensations of wellbeing. Endorphins are released in the body when helping others. Maybe you give on a regular basis or can think back to a moment when you really touched someone’s heart through helping another. Whether it’s giving your time or giving a gift, helping others is addicting. It penetrates to every fiber of your being. Helping others sparks a desire to want to share more, give more, and do more for those around you.
Sure you could list ways to help others, but inevitably the list would probably get longer and longer the more thought you put into it. The truth is, we all need help in some shape or form from time to time. Whether if it’s having someone hold the door open when our hands are full, or help during a time of need, it all goes a long way. Our challenge is to notice when help may be needed. When we look for situations to help others, our attitudes begin to change, our state of mind becomes geared towards opportunities to make a mark on someone’s else’s’ life, and never expecting anything in return. Helping from the heart with love, and unselfishly giving to others can be carried out in even the smallest of ways, such as paying for the order behind you in the drive through. Leave a bigger tip than you normally would. Take note of the person’s name checking you out at the grocery store tell them “thank you” and call them by name. Other ways to give of your time and love would be donating to local shelters, organizations, disaster relief programs, and even local nursing homes. All too many times we think of having to travel a long distance to help others, when needs can be met right here.
When giving on a regular basis, no matter if it’s big or small, it can change who we are, how we think, and what we value in life. This giving state of mind affects us in many ways. Studies show that 95% of people experience a helping high after giving. Of those, 9 out of 10 people perceive their health to be good when compared to others who don’t give.1 This is critical to note. Research indicates that when one believes their health to be good, actual improvements in health are made. How often we help others seems to be a key element of increased well-being. There is a 10 times greater chance in those who give several times a year to view themselves as healthier than once-a-year helpers.2 Physiological benefits are seen when we help others. One instant change includes promoting a sense of calmness within. When stress is reduced, and the body and mind are relaxed, blood pressure lowers, the immune system functions optimally, pain may decrease, and energy levels sky rocket. The ramifications of kindness not only reverberate to those around us in this world, but also affect us within.
When we shift our focus from ourselves, to others, we find that the problems we thought we had, become small. Helping others can make our problems seem insignificant. All to often we get caught up in the busyness of the season that we forget that there are many in need. Make this mind set of giving and loving others last not just through this month, but also into the year to come!
1Luks, A., Payne, P (1992). The Healing Power of Doing Good. The Health and
Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 81.
2 Luks, 82.
DEFINE’s senior instructor and anatomy specialist, Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N. is a doctor in chiropractic and registered nurse. Her love for helping people through education about anatomy and physiology drives her to continue to share her experiences and knowledge with others as they pursue their journey towards health and restoration!