Many people may already understand the benefits associated with serving others. You may have experienced the benefits of helping others in your own life such as feelings of well-being, purpose, and happiness. There are still many people that may have not experienced the pleasure of serving, as well as the positive effects that follow afterward. With that being said, there is clear evidence that serving others positively impacts your mental health.
Every one of us lives very busy lives, especially amidst the ongoing pandemic. Serving others does not have to explicitly take time out of your day. It can be as simple as showing care for the people you interact with in your everyday life. It is normal for us to be so engaged in our own life experiences that we forget to be consciously kind or compassionate to the people around us. When we prioritize these factors, we can make noticeable differences in the lives of ourselves and those around us, especially people that are vulnerable or who are struggling.
What Does It Mean to Serve Others?
There are many ways you can serve others. As mentioned before, serving others can be as simple as being kind to those who cross your path. Serving others can also be volunteering, giving, and providing your own services to help someone that may need them. Serving others means doing something intentionally and primarily for the benefit of someone else. When you serve others, you are going outside of yourself to bring value and joy to the lives of others.
Oftentimes, serving others leads to a mutual benefit of giving and receiving. Although there are inevitable benefits that come with serving others, the catch is that you should not try to serve others primarily so that you can receive such benefits. When you go about serving others with the sole reason that you want to impact their lives, then you are much more likely to receive the benefits. Your intention to better the lives of others will show you that your contribution to the world is important, valued, and needed.
Sure, people can help others to lift themselves up as well. If you are someone that experiences difficulties with your own mental health, or if you struggle in your recovery from addiction, serving others can also help to enhance your recovery. Recovery journeys are often accompanied by feelings of loneliness or lack of self-worth. Serving others can foster a newfound purpose and can increase feelings of self-esteem, especially during those initial stages of recovery.
What Benefits Come With Serving Others?
Being of service to others has a wide range of benefits. Like anything, these benefits are likely to be experienced more intensely when you serve others continuously and repeatedly. You may feel the short-term effects of donating to others or paying for someone’s meal, although the repetition of these selfless acts will allow you to fully experience all that serving others has to offer.
Volunteering, for example, is one way to serve others that is more intentional and can be repeated based on your weekly or monthly schedule. The mental health benefits of volunteering include, but are not limited to:
- Stress reduction. Serving others actually increases feelings of pleasure and levels of dopamine in the brain. This release in dopamine helps to reduce feelings of stress and increase feelings of relaxation. Stress negatively impacts your immune system, so reducing stress can also directly boost your immune system’s functioning.
- Increased sense of community and belonging. When you are given the chance to impact someone else’s life, you are likely to experience a greater sense of connection and purpose within your own life. Companionship and healthy relationship building have incredible impacts on mental health, such as increasing feelings of self-worth, confidence, and decreasing feelings of depression.
- Increased optimism. When you start to experience direct feelings of positivity from helping or serving someone, you will actually retrain your brain to acknowledge a more positive outlook on life. Acts of kindness can boost your mood and can help to alter your brain to look at the brighter side of things.
- A new sense of perspective. When you offer your services to others, you are likely to be appreciated for your own abilities. Especially when you are given the chance to impact someone who is less fortunate than you are, doing so can help to put things into perspective. It can make you feel more positive about your own life and your sense of self-worth.
- Increased happiness. Making a positive impact in the lives of others can also improve your overall well-being. Even the most simple acts of kindness are associated with greater feelings of gratitude and life satisfaction.
There are many mental health benefits that are connected to serving others. Serving others can be as simple as showing kindness to someone you pass by at work or at the store, but can also include repetitive volunteering or using your services to help those in need. Many people that are recovering from mental health issues or addiction find that serving others can foster a new sense of purpose and self-worth. When serving others, it is important to value the fact that you want to better the lives of others, instead of focusing on just bettering your own life. The benefits of serving others include reducing feelings of loneliness and stress, as well as enhancing sense of community, increasing optimism, and increasing happiness. West Coast Recovery Centers believes that serving others is essential when it comes to finding your purpose. We want to guide and support you through your mental distress. Call us today (760) 492-6509.