5 win-win reasons to help loved ones through a hard time
Think about how your life would be without friends and family. These relationships are what make life worth living. Friends and family share in our triumphs and we celebrate theirs. They help us laugh when we need it most, and they offer emotional support when we’re down and out.
When a loved one is struggling, it’s hard to stay silent. This is a good thing because your help does more than just benefit the person struggling. It benefits you, too. Helping your loved one overcome demons is a like nurturing your own support system. That may sound like a selfish way to frame helping others, but we’re talking about a mutually beneficial partnership here.
Here are a 5 reasons to help loved ones overcome their demons:
1. You may increase your own happiness
Research published in the Paradox of Generosity found that Americans who consider themselves “very happy” spend at least 5.8 hours volunteering each month. Researchers tracked 2,000 people over a five-year period and concluded that giving back may provide people with a neurochemical sense of reward. Helping your loved one overcome demons isn’t exactly the same as volunteering, but it is helping all the same. Some may argue that you’d get even more of a reward by helping someone you care deeply about.
2. You may benefit from lower blood pressure
Do you know what happens when you focus on someone else’s problems? You don’t have as much time to obsess over your own. Maybe that’s why people who volunteer are happier overall. But the benefits of helping others don’t stop at happiness. One study found that older people who volunteer for at least 200 hours a year decrease their risk of hypertension by as much as 40 percent. When you’re helping your friends and family, you’re engaging in social activities that will help you feel more connected and less stressed. Just be sure to keep the focus on the positive; if you focus too much on the problem and not the solution, you may adopt some of your loved one’s stress.
3. You’ll gain a sense of satisfaction
Whenever you go out of your way to help someone else, you gain a sense of satisfaction that you won’t find elsewhere. This isn’t about ego. It’s about knowing you’re a good friend.
4. You’ll strengthen your bond
Let’s say your friend is struggling with something major, like addiction. In this case, helping is far from easy.You may be one of the only friends this person has left, and that will mean something in the long run. You’ll be there to provide emotional support, talk about the realities of treatment, and get her admitted into the right program. You’ll be her shoulder to lean on when things get difficult (and they most certainly will), and your bond will be so much stronger in the end.
In this example, it’s important to note that your help should only be focused on recovery. There’s a fine line between helping and enabling, especially when you’re dealing with addiction. If you cross that line, you’ll negate all the good work you’re doing to help your friend. And this can be true for anything. If your loved one has bad habits, keep a laser focus on the remedy, or you may end up doing more harm than good.
5. You’ll gain a better friend
Whether it’s a current problem or skeletons in the closet, your friend cannot be the best version of themselves while these things are weighing on them. This means that he’s not going to be the best friend to you either. That’s not to say he’s a slump. He could be amazing and the best friend you’ve ever had, but know that he probably has more to give. If you can help him overcome his demons, you stand to score a much better friend. Think about it this way, when you’re caught up worrying about major issues in your life, do you have time to be a good friend? Probably not as much as you’d like. It works the same for everyone.
Some people look at helping as something they do for others. That is true. But it’s also something we do for ourselves. And the kicker here is that we’re more likely to make time for something that makes us feel good. Even if it’s difficult in the moment, helping a friend overcome demons is a mutually-beneficial act that will draw you closer together.
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