How acts of kindness could relieve your pain

Pain is a part of life. But it’s a bigger part of life for some people than others…

If you have arthritis, nerve damage, migraines, back problems or other health issues, pain can crash the party far too often. Painkillers are one way to kick that party crasher out. But we all know, they end up causing more problems in the end…

Addiction, dizziness, depression, constipation — for most people, these side effects ruin the quality of life more than the pain does. So, how do you tackle pain more holistically?

Well, if you’re addressing pain from a natural perspective, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. And there’s no silver bullet. It usually takes trial and error to find natural pain solutions that work for you. And you’ll probably have to use more than one.

Acupuncture, medical marijuana, cognitive behavioral therapy, curcumin and anti-inflammatory diets are all popular, effective options. But there’s one more natural pain solution I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard about…

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Altruism puts pain in its place

Have you ever noticed that doing nice things for others makes you feel good? Well, a new study shows it might do more than make you feel good… it might make you feel less pain.

The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people felt less pain while they were doing something altruistic.

For example, researchers found that people volunteering after an earthquake felt less pain from the needle jab when they gave blood than people who were getting blood drawn for non-altruistic reasons. Similarly, volunteers revising a handbook for migrant children were more resilient to extreme cold than people who weren’t volunteering.

I know what you’re thinking… how am I supposed to do something altruistic when I’m in pain? Well, just listen to this…

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Researchers also found that people with cancer who cooked and cleaned for others felt less pain than those who only cooked and cleaned for themselves. If they can do it, so can you!

Now here’s the big question… why does doing something nice for others make you feel less pain?

Researchers don’t know for sure. But it may be related to dopamine levels. Kind acts cause the brain to release dopamine. And research shows there’s a connection between dopamine and pain.

Make the world less painful — for yourself and others!

I know doing stuff for others when you’re in pain sounds like a stretch. But you don’t have to go build houses in Honduras or help clean up after a hurricane. There are small, everyday actions you can take, like:

  • Cooking dinner for someone you love
  • Driving a friend to the doctor
  • Baking cookies for a neighbor
  • Sending someone you know a nice card or note

And if your pain is really so bad that you can’t do much, consider donating a few dollars to a cause you care about. Researchers found that people who donated money to help orphans responded less painfully to electrical shocks. So, even financial altruism counts!

I don’t know about you, but this is a pain relief strategy I’m definitely on board with. Just think about it…

If everyone did something kind in the name of pain relief, the world would be a far less painful place in more ways than one.

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  1. Experiments show altruistic behaviors reduce pain — MedicalXpress.
  2. Altruistic behaviors relieve physical pain — Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and