If we hear one more thing about self-care during this crisis, we might set our hair(s) on fire.
"Wait, but Life Elements, don't you sell self-care products?"
Yes, but we feel that the whole point of self-care is being overlooked in an industry that's obsessed with commodifying everything from jeans to gold collagen hand masks, (yes, that's a real thing), in the name of treat-yo-self. We believe in self-care—both mentally and physically—because it enables us to help others. This crucial follow-up seems to be missing from the self-care movement.
Here's something else that isn't often talked about in the $11 billion self-care industry: Helping someone else is one of the most powerful ways to treat yourself. Here are some facts that back it up:
A study conducted by two sociologists followed 2,000 people over a five-year period and found that Americans who described themselves as “very happy” volunteered at least 5.8 hours per month. Researchers think this is because individuals receive a “mental boost” from the neurochemical sense of reward, also known as dopamine.
Chronic Pain Relief
Chronic pain? Helping others can help with that. CNN reported on a new series of studies that may have found one reason why and how: “Regions of the brain that react to painful stimulation appear to be instantly deactivated by the experience of giving.”
There’s a study for that, too. In a recent NYT article, we read: “There is a lot of evidence that one of the best anti-anxiety medications available is generosity,” said Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist. “The great thing about showing up for other people is that it doesn’t have to cost a whole lot or anything at all, and it ends up being beneficial to the giver.”
The article goes on to explain the psychological state of "helper's high," which discusses the flow of positive emotions.
Of course, we want everyone to take care of themselves, but not just for themselves...let's be in this together.
All that said, we also don't want to come across as insensitive—we know there are mental health issues and deep depressions that cannot be solved simply by dropping off some cayenne pepper for your neighbor. (Someone did that for us and it was really nice.)
But if we are in a place where our cups runneth full, and we feel strong enough, let's extend a hand to someone (or something) in need. It could be Planet Earth (it's Earth Month!), or your local doggos, or donating to healthcare heroes on the front line.
If you're anything like us, you love National Public Radio (NPR). They have a very helpful list comprised of bite-sized, manageable ways to get involved during COVID-19. We love you all a whole lot. Thank you for reading.