9 Mental and Physical Benefits of Helping Others
Anne Akers interviews Carey Davidson, Founder of Tournesol Wellness
A Note from Anne: Much has been said, and written, about the psychological and physical benefits of helping one another. Countless studies indicate that the act of giving not only boosts your health and wellbeing, but also your happiness. One study from the University of British Columbia pointed to the fact that even toddlers are actually happier giving than receiving. Conversely, in a recent survey with an older population, one of the common regrets expressed was that as we age, we often realize that we have not given enough of ourselves.
And who would think that in an environment where many of us feel we have to “fight” just to stay on top of our game that being nice to people would be good for us? While competition and cooperation need not be mutually exclusive, imagine a world in which we competed at helping one another? Networks, for example can empower ……when we collaborate with those who have similar goals and aspirations, there is a synergistic reaction that can inspire, motivate, and even stimulate other’s imaginations so that the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts takes on real meaning. Consider also the “ripple effect”, where altruism becomes contagious and one positive act inspires another.
Indeed it all works, as in the words of Robert Ingersoll, who said, “We rise by lifting others”.
Among the Tomatoes, there are countless stories of the power of “giving back” and helping one another, in ways large and small. It was my pleasure to interview Carey Davidson, the Founder of Tournesol Wellness, on the work of VETWELL, currently helping to restore “quality of life”, relief from stress and anxiety, and pain management for our Veterans, men and women. And as is commonly acknowledged, when we help to cure others, we help to cure ourselves.
PS – If you are in the NYC area, join me for a wonderful afternoon of entertainment, “A Galaxy of Stars Salutes Our Veterans” on November 10th. It’s a benefit to support Vetwell.
I hope you will enjoy one of these examples that Carey shared with me.
I want to share something personal with you. I hope it helps you grow today.
Thomas, a US Marine Veteran, came to Tournesol last week for his fifth Vibroacoustic session. I followed him up the stairs to the treatment room. Something about him was different. He was taking the steps with less difficulty than usual. I observed it, but didn’t mention it. I am a glass-half-full person, but knock on wood – I never want to jinx anything.
Down the hall on the right, the first door on the left, Thomas led the way to his familiar haven. The Vibroacoustic room was one of the only places in the city he felt he could truly relax. He placed his bag on the floor to the left of the big antique chair in the corner and gave way into its cozy comfort.
“Carey, I have something to tell you.” Tears puddled around his bottom eyelids. Thomas was a gentle soul. I could tell that about him the very first time I saw him. But I’d never seen him cry.
“Remember how I told you I couldn’t pick up my son because of the pain?” I nodded. I remembered. “Well, he came running at me for a hug when I came home last week. I felt like I could lean down ok, so I did. I didn’t have pain. He hugged me and I held him. I even lifted him off the ground.” The tears fell. “I held my son, Carey. And I didn’t have pain. Thank you. Thank you.”
Thomas was wounded during active duty and has had various body pains and PTSD. Both impact his ability to live fully. He has pursued therapies and traditional pain management options, but things haven’t improved.
Thomas is one of many military men and women who are currently being helped by the VETWELL program at Tournesol. Their stories and injuries differ, but the physical and emotional relief they receive through our program is consistent.
Through the VETWELL program and the auspices of Operation Warrior Shield, our 501c3 fiscal sponsor, we are able to provide Veterans eight sessions of Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy and Ayurvedic Lifestyle counseling at no cost.
Thomas is one of many in the program. Their stories and injuries differ, but their physical and emotional relief through our program is consistent.
A surge of deep joy rushed through me when Thomas shared his experience. This type of fulfillment and gratification, based in the ability to help others, has many psychological and physical benefits that I want to share with you.
Here are 9 benefits of giving back.
- Joy Boost – Acts of compassion move us to make more oxytocin, which makes us feel joy and encourages more acts of care and giving.
- Empathy Growth – When we give back, the anterior cingulate portion of our brain is activated, which empowers new synapses for compassion, motivation, attention.
- Improved Optimism – The vagus nerve is engaged when we care for others, which increases health, happiness and aids in digestion.
- Reduced Cortisol – Cortisol flow is hampered when we smile. Helping others is a social endeavor, which creates a great cycle of smiling for the giver and the receiver.
- Lower Blood Pressure – There is research that shows older adults who give back may be less likely to have high blood pressure, which puts them at lower risk for heart related illnesses.
- Improve Self-Esteem – People who give back to others have shown greater life satisfaction and sense of purpose.
- Less Depression and Anxiety – When people focus on helping others, they spend less time concentrating on their own lives, which reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Lower Stress Levels – Supporting others reduces stress, which is a major risk factor in several chronic diseases.
- Live Longer – Research from UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan report longer lives in people who helped family members and organizations in need.
Carey Davidson is founder of Tournesol Wellness, a holistic and integrative medical practice.