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  • Writer's pictureKate Bradshaw

The Benefits of a Career in Caring

Are you thinking of a new career, perhaps you are considering becoming a support worker?

Did you know that not only is it a rewarding career but also has proven benefits for your health and well-being?

People who care for others well-being seem to be happier and less depressed. This seems to be especially true in older individuals.

Most people who provide care and support to others do so because of a genuine desire to help and improve the world around them.

Nonetheless, modern psychological research has shown that caring has benefits for all involved; people who volunteer or care for others on a consistent basis tend to have better psychological well-being, including fewer depressive symptoms and higher life-satisfaction.

There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests that there is a significant association between caring for other’s well-being and increased positive affect.Taking care of another person can be both incredibly draining and amazingly rewarding. Most research on care giving has focused on the benefits to the person receiving care, but an emerging body of research suggests that – under the right circumstances — providing support also benefits caregivers.

Supporting others and being compassionate can also give you greater life satisfaction. Here are five ways that supporting others can benefit your health, well-being and satisfaction;

1. Service stimulates the brain's pleasure pathways and makes you feel good.

The most easily-recognisable form of compassion is service, and there is ample evidence highlighting how assisting others leads to happiness. Brain-imaging research has revealed that compassionate acts like giving money to charity activate the brain's pleasure centres in the same way as eating a sugary dessert.

Even more importantly, compassion helps us become less focused on ourselves and more focused on trying to help others. This is especially valuable when feeling stressed out or suffering from anxiety. By focusing your attention on someone else, you become less preoccupied with your own worries. Your brain becomes energized as you try to be part of someone else's solution, which allows you to tackle your own problems with renewed vigour.

2. Helping others is contagious (and improves other people's lives).

When someone observes you performing a compassionate act, they become more likely to become motivated to help others as well. Many businesses and charitable organisations have taken steps to tap into this community-driven power. One example of this is Occasion Station, a personal, gift-shopping platform, which created a "Smart Gifting" program that allows its premium members to send gifts to charitable organisations. This setup allows users to share these gift lists with friends and family to encourage additional charitable giving.

As Occasion Station's founder and CEO Felix Odigie explains, "So many people want to give, but they don't know where to start and want to know who they're gifting to. By providing a platform that spreads the word about charitable giving, it's been amazing to see how much people are willing to contribute once they become aware of the opportunities that are out there."

3. Compassion makes you a better, happier person.

Focusing on money and success can make it easy to criticise yourself when you don't live up to preconceived standards or fail to accomplish a particular goal. This can be detrimental to your self-esteem and overall well-being. Rather than criticising yourself for your shortcomings and failures. Simple habits such as using soothing self-talk when you are upset, quieting your inner critic, or even writing an affirming letter can increase happiness and reduce symptoms of depression.

4. Compassion builds stronger social connections.

Supporting others provides new opportunities for social interaction, which has been found to provide a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. Working together to serve others strengthens relationships, allowing you to form deeper connections that can provide much-needed emotional support during hard times. This in turn combats social isolation and loneliness, which can cause serious harm to your mental and emotional health.

5. Compassion improves your physical health, too.

Compassionate behaviour has a significant impact on your emotional well-being, and support workers often experience physical health benefits as well. While money and success can bring a temporary boost to your spirits, the only way to achieve lasting happiness is to develop an attitude of gratitude focused on compassion for yourself and others.

If you are thinking of a career as a support worker we have great opportunities within our supported living and community care teams. Why not check out our careers page to see if anything interests you;

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