How Helping Others Can Help You

Hannah Starcher, B.A.

In a memorable quote by Fred Rogers’ mother - she says, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” As we bravely face each new day during this pandemic I feel that it is important to remember her impactful words.

Research has shown that when we extend our hands to those who need it, our own mental and physical health prospers. By helping others to get through this current crisis, you are helping yourself in equal amounts. It’s a rare, win-win suggestion amid what can be described as a sea of negativity.

We are living in a vulnerable moment in time and we need something that will shift our focus off of adverse news, like the already innumerable amount of new COVID-19 cases that continue to rise. We can’t fully comprehend the weight of what it means to lose such a large amount of people, while simultaneously trying to process what could happen to us or those closest to us. All of this information makes us want to shut off our brains. This is why we need to draw our attention to individuals and small groups of people. We should be searching for what we can do and how we can make a difference right now.  

In a 2017 study done by Stephen Post, a professor and researcher at Stony Brook University, he surveyed 4,500 Americans on their volunteerism and mental health. Out of those individuals, 92% agreed that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life, while 78% agreed that it helped them recover from loss and disappointment. Those are tremendously high numbers that show a clear benefit to the act of giving.

You may be asking yourself how you can give during this pandemic with social distancing and the quarantine. I assure you that there are a number of ways in which you can help aid others, which will in turn help you!

  • If you are a sewer, you can find a simple sewing pattern online and donate much needed masks to your community.
  • If you are an expert in math, science, reading, writing, etc., offer to tutor children or teens online that may need extra help completing their assignments.
  • Donate money to organizations or charities of your choice if you have the means to do so.  
  • If you have the time, live alone, and are in good health you can offer to volunteer at food banks (but this would naturally increase your chances of contracting the virus).

Giving does not have to be overly complicated. Anything that you are able give is sure to suffice - and you don’t need to exhaust yourself doing it every day. Whenever you find time, and are able, commit yourself to doing something good for others. You don’t have to sit around and wait for a vaccine - volunteer your time, body, and resources and give yourself some much needed hope again.

Sources: Johnson, S. S. (2017). The Art of Health Promotion ideas for improving health outcomes. American Journal of Health Promotion, 31(2), 163–164.    

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