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Yale University study: helping others lowers stress

center-for-teaching-and-learning-at-uis-2 by Jeremy WilburnResearchers from Yale University’s School of Medicine recently carried out a study showing that selflessly helping others, even in small ways, ends up lowering one’s stress levels. After laboratory experiments revealed this, the researchers wanted to see if this would hold true in real-world experiences. They used 77 adults in the study lasting 14 days. At the end of each day the test subjects were asked electronically to self-report any stressful situations they encountered that day. Then they were asked if they had done anything to help anyone else that day and the number of times they helped others, whether the person helped was family, friend, acquaintance, or stranger. The help could include even something as simple as holding the door open for someone.

To complete the daily report, they self-assessed on a scale of 0 to 100 how they felt emotionally. The higher the incidents of helping others, the lower their stress levels were and the better their mental health was in general.

Throughout the Bible, believers are commanded to do good to others when possible and if we can help it–out of love for God first and then out of love for our neighbor. Although the ultimate goal for this command was to glorify him and reap the rewards in heaven, just like so many other things he commands, doing good can end up helping our whole person. If people, regardless of their spiritual beliefs, receive benefits from helping others, just imagine how much more benefit there must be when we do it simply because we love the Lord and want that to be reflected in loving others.

The idea of helping others must also be met with a sense of balance, according to the Bible. At times, depending on how serious the situation, it may be best not to go out of our way to help someone, such as in cases where someone is using the situation with the intent to harm us or if they’ve proven themselves unworthy of our help. This is why Jesus chose not to help the people in his hometown in Luke 4:16-30. This is where God’s wisdom must enter the picture to help us discern when to help and when to refrain.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6

Source: Helping others dampens the effects of everyday stress, EurekAlert.org, December 14, 2015.

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