The “Helper’s High”
Similar to the ever-illusive “runner’s high,” the helper’s high is exactly what it sounds like— a flood of positive feelings you get after helping someone out in a major way. This is caused by a rush of feel-good chemicals in our brains when we help our fellow humans. Dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin all have a hand in the helper’s high, and these chemicals create feelings of contentment and happiness.
Managing Depressive and Anxious Thoughts
Those same chemicals we mentioned before also play another role in our mental health. It is those very chemicals that can help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. While it is not a guaranteed cure for clinical depression or anxiety disorders, giving back does provide many of the missing chemicals that cause these feelings.
Creating a Purpose
Many of us struggle with the idea of feeling like what we do on a day-to-day basis isn’t very meaningful. Giving back in your spare time is a great way to feel not only like you’re making a difference in the world, but also that you have a clear purpose. Remember that helping others can take many forms, whether you’re helping out at a soup kitchen or donating clothes to places like the Purple Heart Pickup organization, all of which can create a sense that what you do has meaning behind it.
Building a Sense of Gratitude
Sometimes, when we get too used to how our lives are, we can forget to be grateful for the things we do have. Helping others reminds us of the good parts of our own lives and can even help open your eyes if you’ve been neglecting or downplaying them. Gratitude is a useful thing to have, as it helps our own levels of happiness and contentment with what we do have, rather than always focusing on what we don’t.
The mental health benefits of giving back are plentiful and good to keep in mind when we indulge our altruistic side. Seeing how giving back can be good for you as well will hopefully make you consider giving back when you can. By working with one another, we can all come out of this life a little happier.