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Doing unto others

Posted February 11, 2015 in Advice Column, Des Moines West

Why Helping Other Caregivers May Make You Happier

The Golden Rule, Karma, whatever you want to call it—”doing unto others as you would have done to you” is one of the most-used-clichés.

But, as it turns out, this ancient advice might have a truly legitimate scientific basis. Psychologists have dubbed it the “helper’s high,” a blissful feeling that you get after you do something for someone else that is genuinely kind.

So, why is it that caregivers, many of whom spend the majority of their waking hours caring for someone else, aren’t constantly tripping out on the helper’s high?

Caregivers simply spend too much time and energy caring for their loved ones to see the benefits of the helper’s high. Not to mention the other myriad stressors that can occur, like lost jobs, financial trouble, strained family relationships, pain of watching a loved one who is suffering, all of which take a toll on a caregiver’s mood.

But, that doesn’t mean that caregivers can’t find joy in helping others. It just means that they may need to approach it from a different angle.

Why helping other caregivers, helps you

Participation in support groups and forums can be a good way for caregivers to reap the benefits of another kind of service-induced euphoria: the helper therapy principle.

Support groups and forums, “give people in that community the opportunity to help others.

Other ways to offer support;

Send inspiration: There’s definite value in sending someone you care about an uplifting message.

Listen with love: “So many of us are lost about how to help a friend in times of grief; but all that’s really needed is a little kindness, and a listening ear.

Re-gift your experiences: The gift of experience is arguably one of the most precious commodities a person can receive.  Seek out someone who’s going through the same type of situation that you have gone through and offer your opinion on how (or how not) to handle it.

Mind your Ps and Qs: When offering up and receiving advice, it’s important to remember to be kind and courteous. Every gift is an expression of love, and every giver should be thanked graciously, no matter what the gift is,”

But, in the meantime, by engaging with and assisting one another, caregivers have an opportunity to take advantage of the scientifically-proven cycle of well-being that can occur when people in a group decide to lift one another up.

Even in caregiving, there can be flourishing and growth. It creates community and allows people to form deeper relationships.”

Information provided by Sharlynn Watkins of Ramsey Village Continuing Care Retirement Community, 1611 27th St., Des Moines, (515) 274-3612.

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