Feeling Low? Try A Helper’s High

By Darla Breckenridge on 04/22/2013
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5817878969_23c6fe19e0If you find that you’re dwelling too much on your weight and feeling low, one way to take the focus off your feelings is to do something — really almost anything –  for someone else. 

This act of giving can be through an organization or just doing a good deed for your neighbor, such as  picking up the newspaper and delivering it to their door or offering to walk the dog.

When we’re in a funk about our weight worries, we actually can get really self absorbed. Often the self absorption is not about what is working in our lives, but what is wrong with us. And it can be suffocating and isolating. This is where “helper’s high”…can be, well, quite helpful.

Researcher Alan Luks knows for a fact that volunteers gain tremendous benefits from the act of giving, like a reduction in stress and depression, a decrease in physical pain, and a rush of endorphins that makes people literally feel great inside.

Tricia Krietzberg writes, one of the most unique things Luks found was what he coined as “helper’s high.” This refers to the rush of endorphins the body releases during and after performing an act of volunteerism. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers, and are often released during acts of great pleasure, like when someone wins the lottery. Once endorphins are released, they help the body experience a sustained feeling of calm that can increase overall emotional health.

When you are thinking of ways to give, it’s important to be aware of the difference between giving from an empty cup and giving in a way that fills you up.

If working at the food shelf feels like it is the “right thing to do,” but it triggers food cravings or furthers your weight obsessions, this is probably not the place for you to donate your service energy. Maybe a better way to fill up for you would be to read to your niece and give your sister a break. Think about what really feels good to you.

If you are looking for places to volunteer in your area go to 211.org. What kind of service speaks to you?

Photo courtesy of  USACE HQ

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