We’ve all heard the saying that it’s better to give than to receive. This might be true for several reasons, including your health. Obviously, giving helps others, whether it be through volunteering, donating, or simply offering emotional support to someone in need. But that act and the warm, satisfying feeling it evokes is doing you some good too. Studies suggest that the simple act of giving actually boosts your physical and mental health. Here’s how you can give for Better Health.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but depending on how you spend it, it just might. Significant research has found that spending money on others, such as charitable giving or volunteering, was linked to increased happiness, while money spent on personal expenses had no effect on a person’s happiness.
When you give to others, your brain’s reward center is stimulated. This causes the brain to release feel-good chemicals like serotine, dopamine, and endorphins, helping to boost your happiness and overall satisfaction. And although this may be a short-term “giver’s high,” numerous studies have found that performing good deeds and giving to others can lead to greater long-term happiness and life satisfaction.
Lower Blood Pressure
Giving doesn’t just make you happy. It also reduces stress and helps to lower your blood pressure. So much so that some research shows blood pressure improvements from giving were comparable to those seen in people taking medication and adopting a new exercise regimen. A study by Carnegie Mellon University showed that adults over the age of 50 who volunteered regularly were less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who did not. It would appear that giving not only makes your heart happy but also helps to protect it.
If you want to live longer, volunteer. According to one study, people who were 55 and older and who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t volunteer. The results even accounted for other factors, including age, exercise, general health, and habits like smoking. When you’re helping others, you tend to have more motivation and develop a purpose. The lower mortality may also be attributed to the physical and mental benefits of volunteering and giving back, including lower blood pressure, less depression, lower stress levels, and increased self-esteem.
‘Tis the Season to Give
With so much going on in the world, there’s more of a need to spread a little happiness. It doesn’t take much – an afternoon at a soup kitchen, a small charitable donation to a worthy cause, or even picking up a few groceries for a neighbor in need. These simple acts can have a lasting impact on those you’re helping and yourself.
Challenge yourself this holiday season to give a little more and, in turn, receive Better Health.