Giving back is an amazing thing to do for others, but did you know it can help improve your health and wellness, too? While it might seem a bit far-fetched, doing good deeds has a way of bringing good karma to your mind, body and life. Giving can boost your mood and mental health, as well as provide tangible physical changes.
There are so many ways you can make giving back a part of your life and experience all the health benefits it can bring you. While getting healthier and happier yourself isn’t the only reason you should spread positivity, you can be even more joyful when you feel better. That way, you can spread positivity to others around you.
Whether you volunteer, donate, do good deeds or all of the above, you could experience any number of health benefits of giving.
Who doesn’t like the idea of living a little longer? While there’s still research to be done in this area, studies have shown that giving back and volunteering can increase your longevity. Those with heart disease have been found to benefit greatly in this department. Volunteering even a few hours a week has a positive correlation with a longer lifespan.
Although most of the studies have been conducted using older individuals and those with preexisting conditions, the degree to which it helps them would make sense with pretty much everyone. Even if health maintenance isn’t your goal, prevention might be. And while longevity could be enough of a benefit on its own, it’s also connected to a system of health benefits that giving can bring.
It’s no secret that helping others has been known to give people a “warm fuzzy” — and there’s actually a science to that. Often referred to as a warm glow, the fuzzy feeling you get when you do something kind releases positive chemicals in the brain and body. Serotonin and dopamine cause a physical happiness response. The more of these chemicals we get, the better we feel overall. They can lower your risk for depression and help you become a bit more uplifted.
By giving back, you can experience more optimism in your life, which can combat depression. In addition to the simple good feeling of experiencing life from a more positive perspective, optimism has many of its own benefits. It can lower your risk of depression in addition to promoting positive lifestyle choices, increasing longevity and helping to lower blood pressure — ironically, many of the health benefits of giving back.
In addition to more tangible mental and physical health benefits, giving back also tends to help individuals feel more satisfied with their own lives. Whether their good karma comes in the form of volunteering, donating or other forms of giving, using energy and effort toward positive change can help create a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
If you start making a more conscious effort to give back, you might notice a feeling of general happiness increasing in your own life. While it might seem like one doesn’t affect the other, you’d be surprised at how much they can connect. Your body, mind and soul all play a role in your happiness, and giving is a part of that.
Perhaps from the release of happy chemicals or the reduction of stress, studies show that those who volunteer their time for causes they care about can lower their blood pressure. People who already have high blood pressure can see some of the most dramatic benefits from this change.
While most of the studies that have been conducted targeted older adults, it can’t hurt to introduce a positive thing like volunteering into your life — even as a simple positive lifestyle change. Over time, it could reduce or even prevent blood pressure issues in the first place. Everyone is different, but the mind and body connection probably plays a role in the correlation.
Socialization is great for the health of the mind, body and emotions, and giving back provides many opportunities to connect with others. While acts like donating don’t always offer in-person interaction, there are plenty of ways to find social connections. Offering your remote skills and phone banking for causes you care about are great ways to give back from a distance.
Another health benefit that’s interconnected with the larger system of blood pressure, emotional health and longevity is the stress reduction many people find through giving back. It often helps people find purpose and perspective, in addition to increasing happiness. These aspects can play a role in the stress reduction many people experience when volunteering in their communities.
While reducing stress may be connected to many other benefits you might experience, it’s still highly important. When you’re less stressed, you tend to have a better quality of life overall and can easily do more for others.
Giving back — no matter what that looks like in your life — can be good for everyone. You can give back however works best for you, because every little bit counts. Helping others and feeling those warm fuzzies might help your body and mind more than you ever expected.