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Ataxia Support

THE SCIENCE OF HELPING OUT: good for you!

Helping others is good for your body as well as your mind. That’s what the article in the New York Times said, anyway. Who knew! I went on to read the entire piece by Tara Parker-Pope. The link to the article is at the end of this blog. It’s a really great read!

“To help yourself, start by helping others” it said. Apparently, the benefits pay off not only for your mind, but for your body too. Bonus! And when the scientists measured the various benefits, they came to the conclusion that the giver gains at least as much benefit as the receiver of the kindness. Everyone wins when people reach out to help each other. How great is that? But wait: in this time of social distancing and isolation, how can you volunteer?

I used to spend a lot of time being an in-person volunteer. My small Canadian city is probably similar to your community: there are plenty of helping and advocacy organizations that scream for people to step up. I volunteered in mine for decades, and I loved it, but my rare disease brought that to an abrupt end. Fatigue crushed me, and chronic pain drove me from being an avid volunteer straight to my recliner. And there I remained for years.

My mental health took as much of a beating as anything. It wasn’t until I discovered Ben’s Friends that it all started to turn around for me. What a surprise that was: the people there “got” what I was going through, and they helped me get my head around self-advocacy and getting proactive. We had a few good laughs together as well!

Volunteering in person isn’t possible for many of us these days, the article said, because of the rules for physical separation. So true. It continued to say that “The challenge many of us are facing today is how to give support from a distance”. Then it outlined some options: lending a listening ear, giving advice, having a phone visit. That makes perfect sense to me.

But it was the quote from Dr. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, that jumped right out at me: “One of the best things that you can do is call someone else facing a similar problem and talk them through it … When you talk other people through their problems, you come up with wiser perspectives and solutions for yourself.”

And that was the EUREKA! moment for me: Dr. Grant had just described perfectly what we do every day at Ben’s Friends! Except, of course, that we don’t talk in person. We write and message from behind the anonymity of our screen name. And that explained why spending time at Ben’s Friends had done me a world of good: many others had talked me through problems that were their problems as well. And doing that had helped them as well as me.

During this uncertain time of social distancing, HDS (Hug Deprivation Syndrome) and closed facilities, how do you volunteer? Bet you’ve never realized that a few minutes of hanging out with your fellow members on your Ben’s Friends community is real VOLUNTEER work! And it’s volunteer work that helps you as much as it helps others.

So log in to your Ben’s Friends community, share some thoughts, reach out to a newbie, and connect with others who are in the same boat you are! Everybody will be better off for it. You will be able to respond to this article in a similar post on your community. But you will need to be logged in to do that.

Seenie from ModSupport

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TO READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, click on, or copy and paste the URL below into your browser:

Tara Pope, “The Science of Helping Out,” New York Times, April 9, 2020,

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/well/mind/coronavirus-resilience-psychology-anxiety-stress-volunteering.html

(accessed May 9, 2020).

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