Why Giving Is Good for Your Health
We all know giving helps others, whether we volunteer for organizations, offer emotional support to those around us, aiding someone in distress, or even donating to charities. But did you know that the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from helping others is actually good for you?
There are even studies showing the positive affects of giving to our own personal health-both mentally and physically.
Stopping on the side of the road to aid a person in car distress, to volunteering at a soup kitchen to committing to raise money for a specific charity – there are definite health benefits associated with giving. These can include:
Feeling of overwhelming gratitude and joy (which is very healing)
Lower blood pressure
Lower stress levels.
Greater happiness and satisfaction.
There’s just something about the delight of gift-giving that makes us feel good, but there’s actually science backing it up. Research says that people who give social support to others have lower blood pressure than people who don’t. Supportive interaction with others also helps people recover from health-related events.
Researchers also say that people who give their time to help others through community and organizational involvement have greater self-esteem, less depression and lower stress levels than those who don’t.
Giving can help you live longer
I read an amazing study where people who were 55 and older who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t volunteer – even accounting for many other factors including age, exercise, general health and negative habits like smoking.
Another study I read found similar numbers of elderly people who gave help to friends, relatives and neighbors, or who gave emotional support to their spouses, neighbors, and friends versus those who didn’t.
Feeling High Levels of Joy & Love
Biologically, giving can create a “warm glow,” activating regions in the brain, and then in the heart that are associated with pleasure, connection with other people and trust. This is the reason why you feel excitement when you’re about to give a gift to someone else (and why you feel close to them during), or why you feel happy driving back from a volunteer experience.
There is evidence that, during gift-giving behaviors, humans secrete “feel good” chemicals in our brains, such as serotonin (a mood-mediating chemical), dopamine (a feel-good chemical) and oxytocin (a compassion and bonding chemical).
In these same studies it was shown that the functional MRIs of subjects who gave to various charities, were found that the mesolimbic pathway was stimulated, which is the reward center in the brain – releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the “helper’s high.”
And like other highs, this one is addictive, too. So, go ahead and reach out to someone in need, decide what charities you’d like to give to and identify opportunities to give back in your community. Your mental and physical health will thank you – and so will the people you help.
Merry Christmas and Thank You for:
LETTING ME BE YOUR DOORWAY TO HEALTH