A few years ago, folks in Tallahassee decided that October was a really nice month. So, every organization in town began to schedule their events on October weekends. There were craft fairs. There were fall festivals at every pumpkin patch in town. There were birthday parties, tailgates, concerts in the park...and my kids were invited to all of it. Before long, what had started out as a really nice month had turned into something else we felt like we needed to survive. Does that happen to you sometimes, too?
If you’ve been having the physical signs of stress - rapid heartbeat, sweating, confusion, fatigue, a feeling of overwhelm, etc. - then your answer is probably a weak and weary yes.
Well, I have some good news. You can relieve those symptoms with one simple step: do more stuff.
Yes, you read that right! A 2015 study published in the Clinical Psychological Justice journal found that the physical signs of stress can be alleviated through the act of helping others, and that people who practiced random acts of kindness throughout the day reported feeling less stressed and more positive.
The even better news is that kindness and service to others doesn’t need to be time-consuming or costly. Small gestures like making eye contact and sharing a smile with fellow shoppers at the store, allowing someone to go ahead of you in line, holding the door for someone who needs help, and paying someone a compliment can turn the tide of stress on your health.
Need a few more ideas? Try some of these quick ways to bring some sunshine into someone else’s life:
When we feel connected to another person, our bodies release a hormone called dopamine, which is sometimes called the “hug hormone,” because it makes us feel so good. A study in the medical journal Cancer showed that breast cancer patients who perceived their doctor as compassionate, warm, and caring during their appointments were less stressed during treatment.. You can provide the same benefit to others by showing compassion and empathy to them when they express concerns to you.
The pace of life is about to crank up big-time. So, in the next week, I invite you to slow your roll and pay attention to those signs of overwhelm. The next time you feel stressed,, stop and ask yourself, “how can I help?” The solution to stress could very well be in our hands, when they reach out to someone else.
About This Blog
Each week, I write the "Healthy Heather Blog" in the Tallahassee Democrat. It is republished here in case you are not a subscriber (what???). Sometimes it is really good and other times it is just okay. Thanks for reading it regardless of your opinion!