Most people know when they get down or blue that is a temporary emotion. Yet, at times depression can be more lasting and complicated. Sometimes medical treatment is needed along with some form of therapy. There are some preventative activities that can be beneficial in staving off those feelings of being down while at the same time providing needed care for others. Let me share a few important discipleship principals that can help you while helping others:
1) Activity is good. Any form of service means you get yourself off the couch or out of the lazy boy and out of the house or apartment. It will make you stronger and more emotionally fit. Any physical movement also means that you will deal with stress better.
2) The social connections you make are good for you. You and I are hard-wired for face-to-face contact that includes touch, eye contact, smiles, and feedback. These interactions release a hormone called oxytocin, which helps you to bond and care for others, and also helps with stress. Serving is a good way to meet others, make friends, and bond over common beliefs and goals.
3) It is emotionally satisfying. Serving, even when you may not feel like it at first, can give you a deep sense of joy, which is also associated with a more productive and healthier life.
Are you likely to benefit from serving? Here are some research-based answers:
1) Research finds that serving only has health benefits for people who do it in order to help others, rather than to just make themselves feel better. So consider your calling and pick a cause you care about and do it with your heart.
2) New research is finding that serving is better for people of faith, perhaps because by serving they are affirming their most cherished beliefs to help and serve others. If you don’t believe that there is a higher cause there doesn’t seem to be much point. However, it can be a way to lead someone to know and care about a faith based mission.
3) You must be careful in serving because it can actually be harmful to people who volunteer too much. How much is too much? If your service related volunteer job is starting to become more of a burden than a blessing it’s time to take a break. Come back when you are refreshed – you don’t necessarily have to throw in the towel and give up what you were doing forever.
Scientific studies actually show if you want to live a longer, happier, and healthier lives, take all the usual health precautions, and add to that … get out there and share your time serving. That’s a caring cure.