No matter where you go or what you read, you can’t escape the constant stream of information and advice on how you can be healthier and lead a better lifestyle. From exercising and eating more vegetables to engaging in self-care and sleeping eight hours a day, the same health remedies are touted time and again to help us lead healthier lifestyles.
Whilst the advice seems to be never-ending, one thing that is often missed out is the link between altruism and health. Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen or provide charity in Pakistan, helping others has been directly linked to a myriad of positive health effects. Best of all, you don’t even really need to do anything other than be a nice person!
So, how exactly can altruistic tendencies better your health?
It’s thought that nearly everyone will feel stress in some capacity at some point in their lives, whether it’s work related, money related, or to do with a relationship breakdown. In many senses, the very nature of life means that stress is an inevitable reality. With this in mind, keeping stress levels down is essential, especially when you consider that stress can lead to health issues like heart failure and dementia.
One way to bust stress symptoms is to be altruistic. When you carry out a selfless act, your brain releases hormones that make you feel happy, and this means stress is relieved.
It goes without saying that when you feel less stressed, you feel happier by default. Being happy not only feels good, but it also helps your health, too. As mentioned, when you do something for someone else, your brain releases endorphins in response to us being kind and social animals. You might notice feelings of contentment as soon as you do something altruistic in the form of butterflies in your tummy and a smile on your face that your just can’t help. Happiness is essential for your mental health, so why not do something for someone else to make them happy and feel the benefits of it yourself?
It will come as no surprise that altruistic people tend to live longer. This is because when you give you feel happy (as we’ve already established), and this means you’re less likely to suffer from things like depression and anxiety. You’re also less likely to have a stroke or suffer from heart failure, both of which are big killers around the world.
Combined with the mental health benefits, being altruistic can lengthen your life expectancy and allow you lead a longer, higher quality of life.
Loneliness is rarely spoken about but affects millions of people in every country. If you feel lonely, you may be more susceptible to mental health issues such as depression. This not only means low mood, but it can also greatly affect your overall quality of life, making you less likely to look after yourself in the way of eating and exercising properly.
Altruistic people tend to spend a lot of time around others, especially those who actively go out and volunteer at places like homeless shelters and animal shelters. Being around other likeminded people makes you less likely to feel lonely, meaning you’re therefore more inclined to look after yourself and lead a healthier, happier life. With this in mind, if you notice you’re feeling a bit lonely, consider becoming more altruistic and volunteering or joining an online community of people who like to fundraise and things for charity.
With so many benefits, has this article helped you consider being more altruistic?