The Many And Varied Benefits of Caring
If there’s a question that that best symbolizes humanity at its worst, it’s “who cares?”. It’s a question most often spoken by those interested only in themselves with a fundamental lack of respect and regard for the world and the people around them. Don’t be too harsh on them, though. Look around and you’ll see that we don’t inhabit a society that’s conducive to caring. We’re almost pre-programmed by society to be selfish and insulated.
Most of us walk around with headphones stuffed into our ears or heads bowed as we consume the world through the screens on our smartphones. We live in the age of consumerism where we equate happiness with owning stuff and self-cherishment is the ultimate pursuit. From a young age, we’re conditioned to be rampant individualists, striving for our own betterment and educational / career advancement at the expense of all others.
Social media has made everyone the star of their own reality TV show. We’ve stopped looking at ourselves as people and started looking at ourselves as a brand, as a marketable commodity. In an age of unparalleled interconnectivity, we’ve never been more alone.
This is a shame, because chasing possessions and social media ‘likes’ is an ultimately hollow pursuit. It’s caring for others that really gives us value. There are many ways to care for others, from giving to charity to caring for an elderly relative to choosing a career in public service such as teaching, childcare or nursing. The benefits of caring are rich and varied both to the individual and to society as a whole.
The social benefits of caring
Altruism has helped us to grow and evolve as a species. We’ve been looking out for each other since the dawn of humanity, so there’s no reason to stop now. Caring for others, through charitable donations or volunteering helps to protect the most vulnerable in society. It also allows caring people to lead by example, leading to the eventual betterment of society. Moreover, caring for others helps people to like and value you in more meaningful ways than digital hearts and thumbs on a social media platform. Demonstrating caring traits to your children (to them and others), will allow them to see the real-terms benefits of caring. They’ll see the positive impact you have on the lives of others and will grow up wanting to emulate this. This means that you will be giving your kids the inside track when it comes to their interpersonal relationships and emotional health. As we get older, we can find ourselves isolated and depressed unless we form caring, meaningful relationships with others earlier on in life.
The emotional and psychological benefits of caring
Caring for others makes us feel better. Whatever your religious or philosophical persuasion, there’s no doubt that you’ll have been versed in the benefits of caring for others. For all the societal benefits of caring, in whatever form it may take, there are scientifically proven emotional and psychological benefits too. Studies have shown that people who were ‘intrinsically motivated’ (motivated by a desire to do good rather than being encouraged to by a teacher, parent, partner or career advisor) to help others through small acts of altruism or organized voluntary activities demonstrated greater psychological and emotional well being than their peers who did not.
This is because doing good positively affects our brain chemistry. Good deeds stimulate the mesolimbic system, which is the portion of the brain that distributes feelings of reward. This also causes the brain to release feel-good chemicals resulting in what some psychologists call the “helper’s high”. It’s a neurochemical response that is encouraged to perpetuate good deeds.
Compare that to the countless tales of depressed wealthy and successful people that we hear regularly. These are people who have succeeded on the terms that society has dictated, yet still feel sad and empty inside. This is because wealth and the superficial trappings of success are meaningless in and of themselves. We’re conditioned to chase consumer products to distract ourselves from how fundamentally unhappy we are with society’s little arrangement and even when we’ve successfully navigated the road to success, we still feel hollow.
The health benefits of caring
Altruism doesn’t just positively affect your brain chemistry, it improves your overall health too. Heck, it can even help you lose weight. Don’t believe me? Read on! Careers that revolve around the care of others, such as nursing, tend to be very active roles that are more conducive to general health than sedentary desk bound jobs but the health benefits don’t stop there. Charitable or altruistic work can counteract the damaging effects of stress.
In a 2013 study by the United Health Group 78 percent of participants who volunteered over a 12-month period said that they felt their charitable activities lowered their stress levels. This is because good deeds stimulate our body’s production of oxytocin, the “compassion hormone,” which counteracts the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol makes us store fat around our bellies, hence why altruistic acts can actually help you lose weight.
The career benefits of caring
Caring can not only be a wonderful and rewarding pastime, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable career. We’re unfortunately conditioned to chase unrewarding, stressful and irritating yet highly paid jobs in order to chase status symbols like expensive clothes and flashy cars as we neglect what’s far more important… Job satisfaction! Nursing is just one example of an emotionally rewarding career that not only provides job satisfaction and security, but great opportunities for progression, diversification and education that few can compete with. Why earn a Masters Degree in Nursing Administration? Because it can lead to roles in management, leadership and sharing your knowledge and experience with others, allowing you opportunities to help peers through coaching and mentoring. That’s twice the altruistic benefits!
So, who cares?
Now we come back to that first question of “who cares?”. As we move towards a new decade, we need to readdress what we value as a society, thinking twice about the money and status symbols we so desperately crave and pursue more beneficial, more altruistic attitudes. So hopefully, one day, everybody will care.
Tia, and TipsfromTia.com is trying to keep you looking good and
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