Sometimes it can be all too easy to get wrapped up in our own problems. Whether you just have the occasional day where you feel that it’s all too much or you’re struggling with a mental health disorder, it’s easy to think that you’re all alone against the world. That’s why so many people end up turning to drugs and alcohol to numb their feelings and ignore the pain. Unfortunately, all that does is cause a whole host of new problems, and probably exacerbate the ones you already had. There are many things you can do – counseling, therapy, medication, checking into a treatment facility – but one way to help yourself is actually to help others. There’s evidence that doing a good deed can go a long way toward improving your health.

It might sound counterintuitive, that if you have no idea how to help yourself you should help someone else. If you think about it, however, making someone else’s day a little easier can improve your mood and self-esteem, help you feel that your life is worthwhile, and even improve your physical health.

Are you one of those people who enjoys watching your friends open presents more than you enjoy getting them? Try giving to others, and odds are that you’ll feel that same sense of well-being. Pay for coffee for the person in line behind you. Carry an elderly lady’s groceries to her car. Give that homeless man you walk past every day the spare change in your pocket. You might find that making even a small gesture can brighten up your own day.

If you feel lonely or isolated, volunteering with a group might be beneficial. If you’re too shy or anxious to dive into social situations like going to a party or a club, it might help to do something where you know everyone is there for the same purpose. Whether it’s working at a soup kitchen or helping to build houses, you’ll get that feeling of having done some good and maybe even end up making a friend along the way.

Try doing something physical as volunteer work. Exercise is just as good for your mental health as physical. If you have issues with pain that were part of the reason you started taking drugs or drinking, you could kill two birds with one stone and strengthen your body while improving your mood. You could help pick up trash in public areas, either by yourself or as part of a group. Try volunteering at an animal shelter and taking dogs out for some exercise. Help a neighbor out with lawn work, or see if there’s a community garden in your neighborhood that you could work on.

HELPING OTHERS TO HELP YOURSELF

It doesn’t matter so much what you do, as long as it’s something you enjoy and it’s helping others. Just make sure not to overdo things – you don’t want to give away more money than you can afford or tax your body too much if you aren’t used to it.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.