Wellfie Wednesday Tip #67: It's Good to be Good

Happy #WellfieWednesday! This week’s post is brought to you by Aaron (@AaronPerezPT).

     Today’s post is inspired by many current events. I just returned from a week in Haiti providing medical services with STAND: The Haiti Project. It was an amazing experience to say the least. I’d call it “once in a lifetime”, but something tells me I’ll be back. October is also Physical Therapy month, and this Saturday October 14th is Global PT Day of Service #PTDOS. Amidst these caring, altruistic efforts there are ongoing tragedies necessitating more volunteerism and service. Events like Puerto Rico’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Irma, the recent Las Vegas massacre, and Napa fires. So, let’s explore the health benefits of giving. 

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     There is some interesting science to support President Lincoln’s religion. Dr. Steven Post is a leading researcher on this topic and his 2011 open access article provides some great insight. It appears that acts of kindness can improve happiness, health, and even longevity. One study found that recovering alcoholics who helped others with their recovery nearly doubled the likelihood of successful sobriety over a one-year period compared to those who were not helping others. Similarly, people experiencing chronic pain have reported decreasing levels of pain, disability, and depression when they served as peer volunteers to others struggling with chronic pain. In a 2010 survey, the large majority of American adults who volunteered reported numerous health benefits including improved physical health and well-being, increased fulfilment, less stress and anxiety, greater resilience, better sleep, stronger social connections, and improved self-efficacy. That sounds like quite the return on investment. However, these benefits should not serve as primary motives for helping others and are certainly not guaranteed. Nonetheless, genuine benevolence is a powerful act for all parties involved. 

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     There is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. Doing altruistic work can be overdone. Compassion fatigue and burnout among those caring for others daily are not unusual. Detrimental consequences can include severe stress, poor sleep, disrupted cognitive function, distancing from social connections, professional attrition, and depression. The “right amount” of altruism will vary from person to person and depend on several factors. This message resonates with me personally as a healthcare provider. I think the “helper's high” is lost in the day-to-day grind of helping patients through distressful situations on a daily basis. Add unwanted layers of administrative burden such as excessive documentation onto the situation, and it begins to feel more laborious and less joyful. I think it can be helpful to breaks from daily routine. Sometimes this means disconnecting from altruism to make time for yourself. It might be a full vacation, or it may just be a brief moment in your day to take a breath. Occasionally, it may mean reconnecting with meaning and purpose through sincere altruism. That’s what I feel I experienced over the past week volunteering with STAND: The Haiti Project, and I’m grateful for it. Although there was a healthy dose of disconnecting on the trip too, lots of fun.

     At the end of the day, we all need to help ourselves. And one powerful way to do that is through helping others. I hope you find some ways to do so that bring you meaning and happiness. Have an awesome week! 

     And thanks again for all of the #WellfieWednesday support, be sure to post your pictures this week and tag the WW crew members in your post (@PBernerSPT@Eric_in_AmERICa@AaronPerezPT@DianaKlatt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

- WW Crew

Wellness Wednesday Tip #15: Join PT Day of Service (October 15th, 2016)

Happy #WellfieWednesday friends!

This week’s post is a little different; I want to use it to highlight the upcoming PT Day of Service this Saturday, October 15, 2016. 

     PT Day of Service (PTDOS for short) is a global initiative to unite the physical therapy profession in bettering our communities, to inspire others to participate in service and to educate the public on what physical therapy is and what we do as a profession. This year marks the second annual event where physical therapists (or physiotherapists) from all over the world will go out into their communities, volunteer their time and efforts to help give back to those in need. Whether it’s providing pro-bono services, passing out meals at a local shelter, or just picking up some trash around your town, no act is too small to be considered for this movement! Pledge to participate by clicking here!

Just think about it for a second…it’s the ultimate win-win-win. 

     Communities are united through acts of kindness and servitude, individuals are uplifted through giving and receiving helping hands from their peers, and the profession we love can be promoted directly to its most important audience, the consumer. There is no downside!

     This year’s PTDOS falls at a particularly important time for many, as last weekend much of the southeast United States and the Caribbean were devastated by Hurricane Matthew. While this hits close to home for me, as my home city of St. Augustine was heavily damaged by the storm, I can’t help but think of countless other families along the east coast who could use a helping hand this weekend. As an example, my wife and I are looking to gather clothing to donate to families affected by the storm both at home and abroad. Again, no act is too small to be considered following a disaster like this.

For those looking to donate money in addition to time, consider giving to the STAND Haiti Project (http://www.standhaitiproject.org/). 

     From their site: “STAND: The Haiti Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to provide continual, orthopedic care to Haitian communities most in need. To accomplish this, STAND will equip local health workers with a rigorous orthopedic curriculum. A competent team of Haitian practitioners will be able to provide relief from disabling pain and injury at STAND facilities year-round, allowing people to return to productive, happy, and fulfilling lives.”

     Thanks again for all of the #WellfieWednesday support. Be sure to post your pictures again this week and tag Patrick (@PBernerSPT) or myself (@Eric_in_AmERICa) as well as PT Day of Service (@PTDayofService, #PTDOS) and keep the wave of healthy change and positivity going!

- Dr. Eric Uveges, PT, DPT

- Dr. Patrick Berner, PT, DPT


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