Care Changes Lives
Care is a valuable and vital resource; it revitalizes and acts as a soothing tonic for our nervous system. Caring is a powerful motivator; it inspires us and gently revitalizes us. Genuine care comes from the depth of our being, the core of our heart. Care is regenerative for both the sender and receiver. Increasing genuine care can change our lives and perhaps the world.
Through my journey of learning to nourish my heart, I came to realize how important care is. It may seem obvious that nourishing and caring go together, but for many of us, we forget that caring is a feeling, an attitude, a quality into which we put our heart. Caring is a choice; and I find that the more I choose to feel care, the more nourished I become.
I’d like to share with you some caring facts to highlight how important caring for others is to our health and well-being. We will also be having a month-long Facebook contest to honor the caring and dedication of nonprofit organizations as part of our HeartMath for Communities Project.
Five Caring Facts:
Caring interacts with the heart literally: Institute of HeartMath (IHM) research found that our physical heart plays a dynamic role in generating positive emotions and creating feelings of elation during acts of caring and altruism. J. Andrew Armour, a leading neurocardiologist and member of IHM’s Scientific Advisory Board, found that the heart contains cells that synthesize and release the so-called feel-good hormones: dopamine and norepinephrine.
Caring can increase feelings of joy and relieve stress: States of joy and delight can result from giving to others. When you are altruistic “helping someone” your oxytocin level goes up, which helps relieve stress and create the feeling of elation. It has recently been discovered that the heart produces oxytocin, commonly referred to as the love or bonding hormone, and the concentrations of oxytocin found in the heart are as high as those found in the brain.
Caring can be contagious: Elation makes us feel great and perform good acts, according to an “elevation study” published in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers studied individuals who watched TV clips that prompted various moods and found that those who viewed uplifting clips were more likely to engage in altruistic behavior soon after.
Caring can mean better health: HeartMath research has found that caring, like other positive emotions, increases smoothness in the heart’s rhythmic pattern and improves the health of our heart, immune and hormonal systems. In a Cornell University study that followed more than 313 women for 30 years, researchers found 52 percent of women who did not engage in volunteer work experienced a major illness, compared with only 36 percent of those who volunteered in their communities.*
Caring is a big part of the U.S. Economy: Nonprofits and charities comprise about 10 percent of the U.S. workforce according to Guidestar, and pay nearly $540 billion in wages each year according the National Council of Nonprofits.