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Happy Easter Sunday: How Do Healthy Interactions for First Responders and Service Providers Help Ward Off Stress?

Stress is an all-too-common experience for the average person. Between finances, family stress, and other obligations, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Not only does personal stress take a toll, but professional stress does as well. This is especially true for first responders and service providers. More often than not, these professionals feel this kind of burnout beyond their coping capabilities. 

While there are many practices to cope with stress, such as meditation, going for a walk, journaling, or yoga, studies have shown that healthy interactions are a good method for alleviating stress levels. Research has even shown that helping others in a positive, non-stressful environment helps your mental and physical health.

What The Research Says About Healthy Interactions?

A small study published by the Clinical Psychological Science journal found eye-opening results that show how helping others can relieve stress. Participants of the study were asked about the events of their day, like commuting to work, financial responsibilities, and at-home chores. They were also asked to keep track of any helpful behaviors they portrayed, any small acts of kindness they did, and their emotions about the act. 

The study proved that participants who reported daily acts of kindness were less stressed, as the positivity they felt by doing a good deed helped them cope with the negative side effects of stress. On days they could not report any acts of kindness the participants experienced more stress and negativity. This study proves that we can help manage our stress and feel good by performing acts of good service. 

What is Socialization?

Social support has proven to be associated with increased levels of a hormone called dopamine, which functions to decrease anxiety levels and stimulate the nervous system. Stressed people who have adequate levels of social support receive a boost in dopamine, which helps them feel less anxious, more confident, and drawn to other people. Therefore, the act of socialization is simply having healthy interactions with others to help reduce one's stress.

People who are socially connected feel wanted and cared for. These interactions can be talking through feelings or just taking your mind off the stressors of your role. Different people need different levels of socialization. For example, extroverts thrive off spending time with others, while an introvert tends to get a bit more drained per their social battery. This does not mean an introvert does not need socialization, just that they also need some time to themselves to process. Overall, socialization proves that healthy interactions with others like hanging out with friends, volunteering and participating in acts of kindness, or being around people in general can help alleviate some stress.  Additionally, a lot of smiling and laughter can overall facilitate a pleasant mood.  

Strategies to Increase Socialization

Putting yourself out there to get social is not everyone's cup of tea. However, start initiating interactions with friends or family. Call them, invite them over, and just enjoy that person's company. Additionally, join groups of interest, like religious groups, gym classes, or service groups. This way you can meet new people knowing you have something in common to talk about.

Wishing you a happy and peaceful Easter this Sunday, and hope that you too are getting the opportunity to have healthy interactions with loved ones today. For more information on stress and burnout, see my E-book, The Compassion Conundrum: Strategies for First Responders and Service Providers to Prevent Compassion Fatigue.

  1. Source: Erin L George (2024) Socialization and Altruistic Acts as Stress Relief

  1. Source: Vaness Rancano (2015) How Helping Others Can Help Keep Stress In Check

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