Showing Up for Others

The Surprising Self-Care of Showing Up for Others

By Natalie Buchwald, LMHC | Last Updated: June 14th, 2023
Reviewed by Steven Buchwald

When we think of self-care, we often think of activities done solo. Meditation and rest come to mind, or cleaning the house, getting a facial, or exercising.

We all need time for quiet and focus. For many of us, that means being alone from time to time.

But there’s more to life than being alone.

Self-care can (paradoxically) involve others. As it turns out, being of service to others can be an act of self-care, too.

You’d be surprised: Even a tiny, random act of service can go a long way toward improving your own mental health.

The reason this works has to do with our very wirings and a mystery that lies at the heart of all things.

Doing Good for Others Feels Good. Why?

We know that when other people do things for us, we feel good. It makes us feel warm, appreciated, and seen.

It feels good to be the person on the other side, too – the one doing good for others. When we do something generous for someone else, we feel warm inside, too.

Why is that?

Well, on a scientific level, it’s been shown that performing acts of kindness produces a rush of endorphins. This is the same chemical that floods our brains after exercise. Much like there’s a “runner’s high,” there is a “helper’s high,” too.

It actually goes deeper than that.

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When we help other people, we acknowledge and see them. We realize that they’re a part of our community. A part of us. This makes us feel less alone.

Showing up for others helps us feel at one with others. We feel part of something. We get out of our own heads. We feel our world and our heart expand a little.

When we show up for others we transcend our little egoic selves. The act of service aligns us with the universal flow of energy and allows us to experience the interconnectedness of all things.

We experience a sense of unity and oneness that transcends the individual self. This can bring us closer to our true nature.

Doing something outside ourselves feels so really good perhaps because we tap into a deeper truth that lies at the center of our being.

Helping Others Leads to Helping Ourselves

When you’re having a hard time taking care of your own mind, trying to help others can seem counterintuitive.

In our modern world, isolation, loneliness and disconnectedness have become pervasive. Anxiety and depression have become quite common. Relying on mood altering antidepressant medications and numbing with drugs and alcohol are part of our landscape.

In this climate, reaching out to others to check on them is absolutely needed. Think of how you felt the last time someone genuinely reached out to you to see how you were doing.

This isn’t always easy. Our lives are busy. Sometimes we feel like we’re in survival mode, doing the best we can just to stay on top of our own issues. The prospect of reaching out to others can feel draining. we have our own drama taking place in our little bubble that takes away so much of our attention and energy. if we can rise above that and be of service to others, this is a huge win all around.

Being there for others might feel uncomfortable at first. Past the initial awkwardness though, being there for a friend, a family member, an acquaintance or even a stranger brings you back to what matters most.

Being the one that bring everybody up might seem like an ambituous objective. But it does not have to be. Start small and build from there.

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You can start by sending a friend a goofy emoji, or send a voice message. Or use online services to send soup from a favorite restaurant, when you feel they can use some comforting

A simple: “How have you been? When can we catch up?” can be a good way to reach out and offer the opportunity to be there for them.

If you know someone is not doing well, let them know you are noticing it. For instance, you can write or tell them “you seem a little down lately and I wanted to let you know that I’m here for you.”

Allow yourself to be imperfectly helpful. You can’t solve everyone else’s problems – and no one expects you to. But you can show others that they’re not alone and that someone genuinely cares about them.

Lifting others impacts them but it also impacts you. To a great extent, we are what we repeatedly do. By embodying helping others on a regular basis you incorporate something beautiful that feels so really good as part of your daily life.

The ripple effect of this virtuous circle reverberate far beyond yourself. This changes you, those around you and the world at large.

Showing up for others is how we reclaim our future and change the world.

Our Therapists Are Here to Help You Show Up for Yourself And Others

Implementing these strategies and pursuing a helpful mindset might be more easily said than done.

That’s where weekly therapy can help. Your therapist can be your accountability partner as you learn self-compassion, self-care and practice showing up for others.

And if you need help working through deeper challenges en route to practicing compassion and care, your therapist can provide necessary support. Reach out to our team if you’re ready to be matched with a therapist!

Manhattan Mental Health Counseling offers affordable online therapy sessions. For more information, call us at 212-960-8626 or contact us online.