Did you know that helper therapy is a great way to help others and yourself? In the era of self-improvement and self-growth, we turn to books, podcasts and even movies to find sources of inspiration and strategies on what we can do to grow to be able to be the best version of ourselves. Did you find anything about helper therapy?
For some, helper therapy might be a less-obvious initiative you can take to self-improve and grow. Riessman, a social psychologist, defined helper therapy as the idea that helping others is essential to helping oneself. It has been stated that helping others was more beneficial for the helper than the one receiving help.
This may seem quite puzzling, however, upon reflection, you may be able to see helper therapy in every day actions. Researchers state that helping others leads the helper to not only take initiative but also pushes the helper to shift their perspective and focus on the individual or community they are helping. This leads to many positive outcomes such as increased self-esteem, self-confidence and protection against anxiety and depression. Looking outside ourselves and helping others is proven to be a great way to achieve the above.
When you give to the people around you, in small ways or large gestures, you take the initiative and responsibility to give back and spread kindness and compassion. This empowers the individual to have an affirmative attitude towards themselves as they can see they are helping someone else. I have witnessed this myself. Whenever I lend a helping hand, whether it be helping out my mother around the house, holding the door for someone or volunteering at an assisted living facility, the happy giddy feeling that sparks whenever I can help someone is an instant mood booster and becomes my drive to be this version of myself.
Moreover, giving to others shifts the focus from the helper to those you are helping. This shifting of focus can help protect against depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety can be worsened when we have high levels of self-focus and criticism. Social media and endless scrolling does not help! Let’s take a deeper look at this. Having an intense focus on yourself and your thoughts leads to a higher likelihood of negative emotional processing (negative self talk), worsening depression and anxiety symptoms (overwhelming negative feelings such as sadness, loneliness, nervousness, fear, and worry, in addition to lack of energy, sleep problems and brain fog). Whenever I am experiencing depression or anxiety, the weekly sessions dedicated to volunteering or even offering a stranger help can cause a shift in my current state, pulling me out of moments of intense self-focus and negative thinking. Most times, lending a helping hand is all you need to hit the reset on your current mindset and emotional state.
It should be noted that even though helper therapy can significantly benefit the helper to grow and heal if you are experiencing severe symptoms of depression or anxiety, please seek professional help. To help others and reap the benefits of helper therapy, it is essential to also take care of one’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Here at 365give, we strongly advocate and believe in helper therapy, where exercising generosity and compassion each day can greatly benefit the community but also allow the helper to grow, heal and be a little happier each day. To integrate helper therapy into your everyday life, head to 365give’s website for more giving ideas and start giving just a little bit every day.