The Expert Angle

Mental Health Wellness - Tips & Activities to Stay Grounded. Part III

Mental Health Wellness - Tips & Activities to Stay Grounded. Part III

Posted on: May 17, 2021 | By: Richard Lange, Ph.D., LPC, LCSW
There once was a psychiatrist in New York who worked with patients who were depressed.  While he provided the usual treatment, he would add something out of the ordinary. He would ask all his patients to do a mitzvah.
 
A mitzvah is a good deed, but not just any good deed. A mitzvah is a good deed where you are not expected to get anything back. You don’t expect an acknowledgment: it doesn’t give you points; you don’t get a reward; and you might not even get a thank you. You just do it because it’s the right thing to do.
 
After assigning a mitzvah, the psychiatrist noticed that his patients were coming back feeling better, sometimes making significant improvements.  
 
Whether this story is true or not, there is clear scientific evidence that mitzvahs do work.  When people complete a mitzvah, the body releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.  People also report that after doing a mitzvah, they felt they had more meaning in their lives.
 
What a great way to meet people and become more connected with others by simply doing a mitzvah! It’s another great tool to add to your toolbox as you try to incorporate practices to increase socialization, as part of your mental health wellness.  
 
Your mitzvah doesn’t have to be grand gesture; it can be simple.  Let’s say you’re at the market, and a bag of bananas are bought two get one free.  Take the free one to a neighbor, telling them you could not eat them all and would like to share.  Make cookies for your child's class, even though it’s not a holiday or birthday.  Volunteer at an animal shelter, a library, or help at a local farmer’s market. 
 
As we practice and learn to be more social, a straightforward technique is to just do good.
 
Are you interested in talking one-on-one with a professional?  Call the Center For Family Services’ Access line at 877.922.2377 or email or email access@centerffs.org.  Access will work with you to set you up with a professional counselor who can help.