Volunteering and altruism is good for us and others. It has been shown to minimize stress and improve depression. It can reduce the risk for cognitive impairment. It can even help us live longer. It also appears that giving can help us cope with pain. A 2017 study found chronic pain sufferers who volunteered reported decreased pain along with an improved sense of purpose. Previous research suggests that release of dopamine in the reward centers of our brain (ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens) may account for the “warm glow” of doing good.
A new study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences suggests altruism actually decreases acute pain in healthy people and chronic pain in those with cancer. Among individuals who performed altruistic actions, brain activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and bilateral insula in response to a painful shock was significantly reduced via neural activity in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC). And activation of the VMPFC was positively correlated with the person’s experienced meaningfulness from his or her altruistic behavior.
Our News Years’ Resolution is to increase our community service and try to make it easier to reach out and help others. Of course, by virtue of what we do, we try to help others as well. We will start by having an Eat and Share Event Tuesday, January 14 11:30-1:00 in CC121 with everyone’s favorite comfort food, peanut butter and jelly. You can come before conference and make some sandwiches and grab one for yourself! The goal is to make at least 200 sandwiches for donation to the Cathedral Kitchen in Camden.
Let us know if you have other ideas for ways that you would like to be involved! Contact the GME Wellness Committee via Sharon Szmaciasz, Director of Graduate Medical Education, or Dr. Elizabeth A Cerceo with questions or suggestions.
Wellness tips and resources are provided for residents and fellows at Cooper University Health Care. For more information related Resident Wellness, click here.