It almost seems wrong to reach out for help, when so many people are in need. For families like mine, not devastated by the pandemic, or bereaved by the loss of family members to COVID, we certainly have more to be grateful for than can be adequately expressed. And yet even in this world full of heroes and progress, many still need assistance for basic needs.
Far from a downer, though, reaching out to ask for help is not a story of all that’s wrong in the world. In the midst of stress, experts still tell us that one of the best things we can do to find equilibrium and calm the chaos is to do something small, within our power, to help someone else, in a way that matters to us. So I’ve found something, and thought I’d share it with you.
Before I tell you about my small helping opportunity, though, here’s what research is saying we need to remember when we try to help others in order to make the most of our investment.
Don’t take the weight of the world on your shoulders. Small choices move the needle and are better building blocks for momentum which we need to make a big difference in the long term. Also, when we take small actions, we prove to ourselves that there is room in our lives to make a difference – and don’t become discouraged by excess fatigue if we bite off more than we can chew right out of the gate. Small actions tear down the lie that says we have to wait until we can “really invest.” Chances are, the worthy cause you can’t afford to take a year off and go work for would really rather have a small donation from you or a couple of volunteer hours in your area of strength anyway.
Within Our Power
It can keep the anxiety and fatigue down if we look close to home for ways to make a difference. The people we already know, the causes we’ve been touched by, and actions that don’t require learning a whole new skill set offer quicker morale boost (and reduce procrastination.) Sometimes, contributing to the difference someone else is making, keeps our investment within our power. So look around you for others to encourage and team up with to make a difference. Some of us also use this principle to motivate doing things that we’re uniquely good at or capable of. If you’re in a position of influence, or have some kind of expertise or experience, it may mean you can help in a way that others can’t. Starting there can give an extra boost of satisfaction.
To Help Someone
Who isn’t a little exhausted by constantly having to press their own advantage? Too much looking out for “number one” makes us hyper-vigilant, self-centered, and insecure. Research shows that we need the release of thinking of others to interrupt the me-first instinct that drains us. Some studies even showed that humans who didn’t identify as highly people-oriented had an even greater increase in meaning and satisfaction when choosing to take practical steps to help others. In other studies, behavioral psychologists have established a powerful connection to having a sense of being “together” and stress reduction. Helping is a particularly potent form of “togetherness.”
Matters to You
Making a difference means most when it resonates with our own values and experiences. Doing something that matters – not just to the world but to YOU – provides something called alignment. In normal speak this is when what you think matches what you do. By choosing to DO SOMETHING when your values say something should be done, you’re embodying an integrity that is experienced on a cellular level. I’m not going to get freaky here – you know what this feels like. In life we sometimes have to keep pushing forward in the grey areas, and show up for things that don’t particularly speak to our souls. So if you’re getting drained, do something that lets every part of you say YES. THIS. I’m proud to do this.
Sweat Stress Out + Do Good
One of those things that resonates with me personally is an organization called Jovenes en Camino. It’s a home for orphaned boys or those whose families can’t care for them. Our family sponsors a young man named Josian, who lives there. He turned 18 this summer and we are really sad we missed celebrating with him on our summer trip, cancelled due to the complications of COVID for international activities like this. So, since it’s not in my power to go visit, I’m doing what I can instead – participate in this year’s Fiesta Run.
To keep everyone safe and expand the reach of the fundraiser, this year’s Fiesta Run will be virtual. I’ll be sweating it out with a 3-mile run, glad for the chance to sweat and raise money for Jovenes en Camino and Josain. If you care about young men getting a good start, being cared for as they find their way to a productive, meaningful life click here to see what options there are for making a difference.
If you’re feeling worn out with all the heavy things you can’t change, I want to invite you to join me for a stress-relieving, difference-making virtual race…or you can make a difference with a few dollars toward some awesome kids. Sometimes we just need to know we can do something… and rarely does even a few dollars go as far as this organization makes their donations go.
So support me, sweat with me, or do something small to help someone in a meaningful way. If it’s something you can do, go enjoy doing it.
PS: Big shout-out to my business coach at Wild + Brave for keeping me up on anxiety-reducing techniques, and the latest from behavioral neuroscience! (I love all that nerdy stuff!) If you want to learn more great ways to deal with stress and reduce anxiety (or grow your business in uncertain times), you should shoot them a message. Tell them Wendy sent you, and they’ll share all their best stuff with you too!