Depression is most prevalent during the winter months, even with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Stress is a silent culprit, keeping us from leading a healthier, happier life. To better cope with winter blues and inevitable stress, make giving and gratitude priorities. Giving can help you beat stress and transform your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health in the coming year:
Giving to others creates healthy self-respect. When you are thoughtful, kind and generous, you tend to like the person looking back in the mirror. Evoking that kind of confidence invites more kindness from others, and you will feel more capable of handling everyday stressors.
Giving to others makes you better able to cope with stress. The secret to happiness is contentment – and the secret to contentment is realizing that everything you have is a gift, and it is enough. Those who are thankful are better able to cope with stress, experience more positive emotions and are better able to reach goals.
Giving is a gift. Reflect on the inventory of your life each day, and remind yourself of God’s grace and abundance. As we begin to live life this way, we find that giving to others is really not difficult. If someone is hungry, provide food. If they are thirsty, give them a drink. If they are lonely, befriend them. If they are grieving, comfort them. If they are down and out, help them get up and in. You share because you live in a universe run by spiritual laws of abundance that were set in motion before you were ever born.
Giving to others makes your cells happy and healthy. Your genes have a higher moral sense than your mind. When you do things for the right reasons, your genes reward you with healthy cellular activity. When you are selfish, your genes chastise you with unhealthy cellular activity like oxidative stress, premature cell death and cellular mutations. Each time you help others, the reward center in your brain pumps out the mood-elevating neurotransmitter dopamine, creating a ‘helper’s high.’ Much like exercising builds on itself, giving to others creates an upward spiral of positivity, happiness and contentment.
Give gratitude. When you live a life filled with gratitude, you will be above the petty annoyances and concerns of life. As your gratitude increases, your joy increases. As your joy increases, your cells begin to vibrate at a higher energy level and thus, attract the same level of energy. Good things begin to come into your lives.
Giving to others reduces chronic pain. In his book, ‘The Hidden Gifts of Helping,’ author Stephen Post cites new studies that show chronic pain sufferers can see a significant reduction in pain levels when they help someone with the same condition. Having a sense of purpose and compassion will often make sufferers ‘forget’ about their own pain, giving more confidence in the ability to manage it.
Give of yourself. Put feet to your faith by giving money, time, praise or anything of value to others. By volunteering to work the church nursery or visiting community members unable to make it to service, you will experience cheer and contentment. When we strive to be in His likeness, we will find joy.
— by Dr. Pete Sulack
Stress expert, writer and speaker, Dr. Pete Sulack is the author of “Fellowshipping with God’s Voice” as well as the founder of Matthew 10 Ministries and Unhealthy Anonymous (www.unhealthyanonymous.com) – a wellness support program that provides tools for healthier living.