We Americans like to chime about being part of the greatest nation in the world, and having the best work ethic anywhere. However, we pay a heavy price for our greatness and productivity. When it comes to worldwide life expectancy, we Americans don’t even make the top 40. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States ranks 51 in a country comparison of life expectancy.
One of the reasons may be high stress levels. Stress levels that are a results of constantly wanting to be high achievers, and maintaining our expensive lifestyles. The price we pay is a less healthy and shorter life, even though we have the most expensive and perhaps the most advanced health care system in the world. This just proves that you can’t buy good health.
When we put ourselves under constant stress, we overexpose ourselves to cortisol and other stress hormones. Our body’s normal processes get disrupted by these hormones, and we increase our risk of health problems including:
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Digestive problems
- Memory problems
- And skin problems
A new 5 year study conducted by the University of Buffalo, Stony Brook University and Grand Valley State University, has shown that helping others can buffer the bad effects of stress. Routinely doing something beneficial to others not only reduces stress levels, but also reduces mortality risks. Help others and you are less likely to die anytime soon.
Research has also failed to find any health benefits in receiving help. This may prove that giving is indeed better than receiving.
The researchers studied that stress levels and helping behavior of 846 participants from the Detroit, Michigan area. The participants in this study reported the amount of time they spent in the past 12 months helping friends, neighbors or relatives who did not live with them by
- Providing transportation
- Doing errands and shopping
- Performing housework
- Or providing child care and other beneficial tasks
The conclusions of this study showed strong evidence that helping others reduces your mortality risks by buffering the association between stress and mortality. This supports the conclusions of other studies that found people with long and healthy life spans have strong social associations with family and friends. So let’s provide a helping hand as often as we can and live long and prosper.
University of Buffalo:
Study Finds It Actually Is Better (and Healthier) to Give Than to Receive
Central Intelligence Agency:
Country Comparison: Life Expectancy at Birth
Stress: Constant Stress Puts Your Health at Risk