If you are a regular reader of my articles, you already know that I stress that overall optimum health is comprised of three areas:
*** Body – Physical Health
*** Mind – Mental Health
*** Soul – Spiritual Health
If randomly surveyed, most people would probably agree that the act of helping others would improve their mental and spiritual health. What may be surprising is the positive impact that helping others can have on your physical health.
One of the most significant studies done of the effects of helping others was performed by Allan Luks, executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City. He utilized a national survey to collect information from 3,300 people who volunteered in various fields of work. Nearly 95% of the volunteers indicated that they would experience a pleasurable sensation immediately after performing acts of kindness. A further description was a rush of euphoria followed by a longer period of calm. This came to be known as a ‘helper’s high.’
How does that translate into better physical health? During the ‘helper’s high,’ the physical senations that are experienced result in the release of the body’s natural chemical that is known to decrease stress and pain – endorphins. Endorphins literally make you feel better.
Luks’ study concluded that the following health issues were positively affected by strengthening the body’s immune system activity. These benefits are accomplished by:
*** Reversing feelings of depression which then allows individuals to remain more active
*** Supplying social contact with others
*** Reducing feelings of hostility, irritability, and isolation that can cause stress and gastrointestinal problems
*** Decreasing the constriction of airway passages in the pulmonary system (lungs)
These benefits manifest their value in these specific areas:
*** Headaches and backaches
*** Colds and flu
Dr. Vijai Sharma published an article entitled “Helping Others Helps You” in the journal “Mind Publications.” This study involved 2,700 residents in Tecumseh, Michigan. The findings indicated that the residents who volunteered in community organizations decreased their likelihood of dying from disease processes by 250%. It can be inferred that people lived longer and also experienced better health during their life span.
The Lexington area offers many opportunities to help others through volunteer work. Listed below are some suggestions:
*** AIDS Volunteers, Inc. – 225 Walton Avenue – phone number 859-225-3000
*** Shriners Hospital for Children – 1900 Richmond Road – phone number 859-266-2101
*** Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Lexington – 1016 Rushwood Court – phone number 859-231-8181
*** Local hospitals
*** Local churches
Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted as having said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace – a soul generated by love.”
I will end by sharing one of my favorite verses of the Bible. Matthew 25:40 reads, “…Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to me.”
With the cost of health care rising on a daily basis, you can improve your health at no cost by helping or serving others. Don’t miss this opportunity to enrich your life and help yourself by helping others!!