Men’s Health Week: Day 5 – offer #offerfriday
For the fifth and final day of Men’s Health Week we are being encouraged to offer our help or services to someone else either through helping an individual person, or by volunteering for a local community.
Helping others has long been known to offer benefits, both for the helper and for the person being helped. It is the act of helping others that brings with it such a sense of satisfaction which can really boost the helper’s morale and self-confidence.
People who help others often report that they are less stressed and more content than their peers. This is because they gain such positives from engaging in helping others when they aren’t expecting anything in return – the process behind this behaviour is called intrinsic motivation.
Why is intrinsic motivation so good?
Intrinsic motivation is considered better than extrinsic motivation because people who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to be:
Successful – They achieve better results.
Committed – They have a stronger sense of personal commitment.
Persistent – They perform more consistently and are less likely to quit when facing difficulties.
Creative – They are more imaginative and more likely to come up with novel ideas and solutions.
Most people are now aware that chasing after material gains isn’t really the answer when it comes to happiness or positive mental health.
This is the reason why some of the richest people in the world are also the most unhappy because -
‘Money can’t buy happiness’
Being more focused on things that are associated with intrinsic motivation is therefore important, and there are many studies which echo this claim.
The benefits of helping others
There are so many benefits that come from the act of helping others, a few of which I will now discuss.
1. Helping makes you happy: the science of a “helper’s high”
Most people want to feel as though their lives have meaning. The sense of being needed drives and motivates people to perform and achieve.
On top of this several studies have now shown that helping others can even boost our sense of happiness.
One study showed that helping others through volunteer work increased levels of happiness in the participants.
In another study, people were given money to either spend on themselves or give to charity. Those who gave to charity felt happier.
Happy workers are more likely to report that they regularly help others.
Some studies have shown that children under the age of two report being happier when they give treats away rather than receiving treats themselves.
It is even possible that there are neurochemical changes that occur in the brain which create a feeling of euphoria known as the ‘helper’s high’. It is thought that the act of helping can instigate the release of endorphins which, in turn, improves mood and makes people feel happier.
It is even possible that helping others does more for the happiness of the ‘helper’ than the person who receives the help.
Helping others builds stronger social bonds with friends and family
Benefiting someone else in a positive way forms a deeper connection and builds the trust and bond more powerfully between two people.
The good feeling is increased further when the person being helped expresses their gratitude. Being thanked and appreciated is a basic human need and this strengthens the friendship bond even further.
Gratitude is also thought to contribute to levels of satisfaction and contentment and enables people to focus more heavily on the positives rather than continuously focusing on what they lack or don’t have.
Helping others reduces stress and builds resilience
This may seem strange but helping others doesn’t add stress to your life, it actually helps us to manage stress better.
One study even found that students who participated in a programme to help the poor had better stress management and coping abilities than their peers.
Helping people who are less fortunate often helps people to put their lives into perspective and increase their appreciation of their own situation.
Better health: helping can make you live longer
The link between better health and helping others is striking.
Helping others can in fact:
Lower rates of depression and put you in a better mood.
Lower your risk of dying by at least 22%.
Be a fantastic tonic to your mental health.
Helping others can give meaning to your life
There is a link between helping others and finding meaning in your life, in fact, helping others can actually create a sense of meaning in our lives.
Helping others fulfils some of our most basic needs such as connecting and belonging to others and allowing us to feel needed. Facets such as these are where meaning and substance is derived from one’s life.
A meaningful life is created through our plans and actions, and it starts with looking for ways to help others.
Helping others through my own experience
I know all about the good feeling that comes from helping others through the work I do in mental health peer support.
It makes me feel so satisfied to know that my lived experience is actually helping others, and it makes the hideous torment, the losses, and trauma of bipolar disorder somehow easier to reconcile with.
My mission to help others includes writing on the blog, supporting my doctor’s patients, and visiting my fellow mental illness ‘troop’ both in the community and in hospital. I find it far more rewarding than winning any medal or trophy in my former life as an event rider – it’s a far more satisfying and important mission than chasing personal glory.
This was confirmed yesterday when I attended a zoom meeting organised by Steve Phillip from The Jordan Legacy CIC who I wrote about in a previous post.
The feedback that I received from both Steve and his colleagues was incredibly touching, and it’s made me even more determined to get my knowledge out into the public domain so that I can help even more people.
I will now be taking a few days off to rest but also to give myself time to prioritise finding an agent and a publisher for Dying to Stay Alive!
I am now signing off and posting this at 06.08 a.m (the devotion to helping others is very real!), as I am getting in the car in a minute to drive to Great Tew Horse Trials to HELP my friends out in the pouring rain!
I will be back next week with more informative and educational insights from #dyingtostayalive!
More information including details of how to get involved with supporting men’s health, can be found on the Men’s Health Forum site, a link to which I have added here.
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,