Doing something for yourself can make you happy. But have you ever experienced the seamless joy you can experience after giving to others or doing something for someone? Giving through donations or volunteer work can improve the lives of others, but did you know it can also be good for your own health? The benefits of giving are such that you can feel an immediate improvement in your mood. You can also create a sense of purpose and direction by realizing that the lives of others can positively impact what you do.
A link between happiness and spending money on charity was found in a 2008 study published in the journal Science. On the other hand, the study showed that money spent by participants on new things or personal expenses had no effect whatsoever on happiness. Another study, published in the journal Emotion in 2016, suggested that doing “random acts of kindness” for others can help improve mood.
What are the mental health benefits of giving?
Contributions positively impact the giver’s mental health in several ways. When you make a conscious donation and use your unique strengths and abilities, you are not only giving something of meaningful value, but you are also participating in a fulfilling activity. This helps to not only have a sense of connection, but also joy and gratitude. This improves your emotional and psychological well-being, says psychotherapist, life and business coach Dr Chandni Tugnait.
Here are some ways giving can be good for your health:
1. The joy of giving
The joy that comes from giving is one of the most immediate benefits to mental health. Giving, whether it’s a modest gift or an important gesture, makes us feel happy and satisfied, which can improve our mood and overall well-being.
2. Reduction of stress
Giving has the potential to relieve stress. When a person engages in acts of compassion or giving to the needy, oxytocin, a hormone linked to stress reduction, is released. Givers often have less stress and anxiety.
3. Reduced depression
Giving can reduce symptoms of depression, which can be managed by tapping into one’s sense of purpose and the fulfilling emotions that come from helping others.
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4. Improved life satisfaction
It is believed that giving is a happy way of life. It improves our sense of meaning and fulfillment in life, increasing our overall life satisfaction.
Giving promotes empathy and compassion, says the expert. Thinking about the needs and feelings of others encourages empathy.
6. Positive impact on cognitive function
The act of giving can help improve the areas of the brain associated with reward and pleasure, which positively impacts cognitive function, says Dr. Tugnait.
7. Develop appreciation
Giving makes us feel grateful and increases our awareness of the blessings in our own lives. It can lead to greater gratitude and feelings of appreciation.
Giving is a noble gesture, and every act of kindness has the potential to inspire others. When people witness acts of giving, they are often inspired to contribute themselves, creating a cycle of generosity that can transform communities. But it can go too far if it causes you to overload yourself and ignore your needs. Overcommitment to volunteer work or humanitarian causes can result in burnout.
So strike a balance between genuine generosity and sensible self-care. By periodically replenishing and replenishing your own reserves, you generate the stamina to continue giving at a sustainable pace, for the greater good.
The next time you decide to help a neighbor with groceries or do a roommate’s chores, don’t forget to recharge yourself first.