“What can I do to help?” many of us don’t know how to answer. Many of us are pretty reluctant to actually assign work to others, even others who are more than willing to really help. Because of this we miss out on much needed help and support.
You may admittedly be feeling overwhelmed with juggling work, children, and the responsibilities of your own home while caring for yourself or a loved one with an advanced illness. But moving from feeling overwhelmed to actually accepting help is often something many of us never do.
Realize offers of help are genuine.
There are many reasons that it may be hard to accept support. But one of the main reasons is the fear that those who are offering really don’t mean it. Will they feel put upon if you accept? Will they resent you asking? But the reality is most likely very different. You’ll be accepting help from an adult person who can decide for themselves if they want to be involved. Many people want to contribute for no other reason than they simply get great satisfaction by helping others. It actually benefits them in a way that might not be apparent. They’re not viewing helping as a burden, but as an opportunity.
Take baby steps.
When someone offers to help, take a baby step. Begin by asking them how they’d like to help. Let them suggest possible ways for them to be involved and how they feel they can best contribute. Start a list of who can help, their contact info and what they’d like to do. Then consider what tasks you’d feel OK to give up.
- You might have them take you or your loved one to a doctor appointment
- Have them present for a doctor or home health visits.
- Letting someone run errands for you is a good way to begin accepting help.
- Have someone come sit with you for couple of hours to watch a movie or read your favorite a book.
- Allow yourself to feel more connected to the outside world.
Your loved ones will benefit.
Your loved one will benefit from your ability to say ‘yes’ to those who offer to lend a hand. Allowing help from family, friends or church members lets your loved one feel a little less stress and feels good.
Avoid becoming overburdened.
Accepting help will also most likely help your relationship with your loved one. If you become over-burdened you may become less patient, less in tune to their own needs. Being overwhelmed will hamper your ability to enjoy your time together and rob you of special moments you will come to cherish in the days ahead. Accepting help will let you be better for them.
Benefits of helping others
- Helping others feels good
- When you help others, it promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness.
- These rushes are often followed by longer periods of calm and can eventually lead to better wellbeing. Helping others improves social support, encourages us to lead a more physically active lifestyle, distracts us from our own problems, allows us to engage in a meaningful activity and improves our self-esteem and competence.
- It brings a sense of belonging and reduces isolation
- Being a part of a social network leads to a feeling of belonging. Face-to-face activities such as volunteering at a drop-in center can help reduce loneliness and isolation.
- It helps to keep things in perspective
- Many people don’t realize the impact that a different perspective can have on their outlook on life. Helping others in need, especially those who are less fortunate than yourself, can provide a real sense of perspective and make you realize how lucky you are, enabling you to stop focusing on what you feel you are missing – helping you to achieve a more positive outlook on the things that may be causing you stress.
- It helps make the world a happier place – it’s contagious!
- Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place. An act of kindness can improve confidence, control, happiness and optimism.
- It can also encourage others to repeat the good deed that they’ve experienced themselves – it contributes to a more positive community.
- The more you do for others, the more you do for yourself
- Evidence shows that the benefits of helping others can last long after the act itself by providing a ‘kindness bank’ of memories that can be drawn upon in the future.