Helping Others May Reduce Stress For The HelperBy Health News Team • Nov 11th, 2011 • Category: Stress, True Health News
People who provide assistance in times of need may not just be helping other individuals. New research shows that helpers may also be benefiting their own health and experience stress relief.
"When people talk about the ways in which social support is good for our health, they typically assume that the benefits of social support come from the support we receive from others, but it now seems likely that some of the health benefits of social support actually come from the support we provide to others," said researcher Naomi Eisenberger of the University of California, Los Angeles.
In order to investigate this concept, a team of scientists conducted a study that enrolled 20 heterosexual couples. While the women were undergoing MRI scans of their brains, their boyfriends were receiving electric shocks nearby. Sometimes the women were allowed to hold their boyfriends' arms throughout the experience, while at other times they could only use a squeeze-ball.
Results showed that during the periods when the women were allowed to comfort their boyfriends, there was increased activity in parts of the brain related to experiences of reward, as published in Psychosomatic Medicine.
The researchers want to conduct further studies investigating the health benefits of helping others.