Altruistic Acts – A simple method to reduce stress

Welcome. Altruistic Acts is the third article in a series on stress which aims to give you simple ideas for managing stress. Each article contains an idea to manage stress, a short explanation why it is helpful in managing stress and an exercise based on the idea. Then it is up to you to try it out over the week. To get the most out of this series, write down how each exercise is working for you in managing your stress.

Quick re-cap

Idea 1 – Cultivating Gratitude Stress Reducing Ideas – Idea 1 – Cultivating Gratitude
Idea 2 – Becoming Mindful Stress Reducing Ideas – Idea 2 – Becoming Mindful

This week’s idea is Altruistic Acts


Being altruistic means doing good deeds and helping others without seeking recognition or thanks. Research has found a relationship between altruistic acts and reduced stress. Here are three reasons you may want to try being more altruistic to reduce stress in your life:

  1. Being altruistic releases endorphins in the brain which subsequently can increase energy and positive feelings and decrease anxiety and pain.
  2. Helping others less fortunate than yourself can change your perspective from an inward focus to an outward focus. It can reduce your stress by helping you see how fortunate you are, what matters to you and increases a sense of meaning and connectedness.
  3. People who are altruistic tend to have stronger relationships, less depression, a decreased sense of hopelessness, increased self-esteem and better physical and mental health.

Exercise on Altruistic Acts

This week’s exercise is to choose from the list below, or think up yourself, a simple and easy altruistic act you can do or start today. You may choose something you can do again and again each day this week or maybe your act takes a few days to prepare and carry out. It is important to chose an altruistic act that fit in with your finances, time constraints, personality and lifestyle. There is no point choosing an act that is going to increase your stress such as donating money when you are in debt to banks, loan companies or family. I would suggest you start with something that sounds simple and easy for you to do. Below is a list of suggestions to get you thinking. Decide on your act and commit to it this week if you can. Again this is not to cause you more stress so choose an act you can do easily. You may need to plan when you are going to do this act or opportunities may present themselves for you naturally. Write down your experience if you can and consider how becoming more altruistic may work to reduce your stress.

List of suggestions:

  • Put your neighbour’s bin out or taking it in
  • Cut/water your neighbour’s lawn
  • Wash other people’s dishes at work or home
  • Hold the door open for someone
  • Let someone go in front of you in a queue
  • Visit a relative
  • Ask someone if there is anything you can do for them
  • Give food to a homeless person
  • Be the designated driver
  • When driving let another car merge
  • Become an organ donor
  • Give blood
  • Buy two of something and give one unused to charity
  • Donate your old clothes
  • Recycle
  • Cook for a sick friend or relative
  • Give a positive comment/review on a website
  • Bake for colleagues or your neighbours
  • Volunteer at your local hospice, youth club, hospital, day centre
  • Buy a gift for someone
  • Buy cans for a food bank
  • Mentor someone
  • Mentor new/young parents who need someone to talk to
  • Offer to babysit/dogsit
  • Pick up litter
  • Send a handmade card to someone
  • Give a note of appreciation
  • Take someone out to the movies or dinner
  • Give money to charity

I hope this short list helps you to get started in becoming more altruistic.

If you have enjoyed reading this article please like and share. I will introduce you to another stress managing idea next week. Until then have a good one.

With thanks to Luke Bennett Photography for the feature image.

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