by Carey Davidson
I want to share something personal with you. I hope it helps you grow today.
Thomas, a US Marine Veteran, came to Tournesol last week for his fifth Vibroacoustic session. I followed him up the stairs to the treatment room. I noticed that something about him was different. He was taking the steps with less difficulty than usual. I observed it, but didn’t mention it. I am a glass-half-full person, but knock on wood – I never want to jinx anything.
Down the hall on the right, the first door on the left, Thomas led the way to his familiar haven. The Vibroacoustic room was one of the only places in the city he felt he could truly relax. He placed his bag on the floor to the left of the big antique wooden chair in the corner and gave way into its cozy comfort.
“Carey, I have something to tell you.” Tears puddled around the bottoms of his eyelids. Thomas was a gentle soul. I could tell that about him the very first time I saw him. But I’d never seen him cry.
“Remember how I told you I couldn’t pick up my son because of the pain?” I nodded. I remembered. “Well, he came running at me for a hug when I came home last week. I felt like I could lean down ok, so I did. I didn’t have pain. He hugged me and I held him. I even lifted him off the ground.” The tears fell. “I held my son, Carey. And I didn’t have pain. Thank you. Thank you.”
Thomas was wounded during active duty and has had various body pains and PTSD for years. Both impact his ability to live life fully. He has pursued therapies and traditional pain management options, but things haven’t improved.
Thomas is one of many military men and women who are currently being helped by the VETWELL program at Tournesol. Their stories and injuries differ, but the physical and emotional relief they receive through our program is consistent.
Through the VETWELL program and the auspices of Operation Warrior Shield, our 501c3 fiscal sponsor, we are able to provide Veterans eight sessions of Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy and Ayurvedic Lifestyle counseling at no cost. Thomas is one of many in the program.
A surge of deep joy rushed through me when Thomas shared his experience. This type of fulfillment and gratification, based in the ability to help others, has many psychological and physical benefits that I want to share with you.
Here are 9 benefits of giving back.
Joy Boost – Acts of compassion move us to make more oxytocin, which makes us feel joy and encourages more acts of care and giving.
Empathy Growth – When we give back, the anterior cingulate portion of our brain is activated, which empowers new synapses for compassion, motivation and attention.
Improved Optimism – The vagus nerve is engaged when we care for others, which increases health, happiness and aids in digestion.
Reduced Cortisol – Cortisol flow is hampered when we smile. Helping others is a social endeavor, which creates a cycle of smiling for the giver and the receiver.
Lower Blood Pressure – There is research that shows older adults who give back may be less likely to have high blood pressure, which puts them at lower risk for heart related illnesses.
Improve Self-Esteem – People who give back to others have shown greater life satisfaction and sense of purpose.
Less Depression and Anxiety – When people focus on helping others, they spend less time concentrating on their own challenges, which reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Lower Stress Levels – Supporting others reduces stress, which is a major risk factor in several chronic diseases.
Live Longer – Research from UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan report longer lives in people who helped family members and organizations in need.