The Unexpected Health Benefits
of Giving to Others
Giving to others can take a variety of forms. One, is by making a regular monetary donation to a charitable organization or during its seasonal drives or fund-raising events. Another, is by donating food and clothing to the local foodbank. Still another, is by volunteering our time in a variety of ways to nonprofits. Stocking foodbank shelves, organizing sporting events for a cause, and providing voluntary expertise are just some of the ways we can do the latter.
Our reason for giving to others is an unselfish one. It is solely to do something that will benefit someone else and possibly improve their life in some way. There is no notoriety in donating money. The recipient will never know who did so. They will, however, understand the motive behind the donation was pure and that their life has become better because of it.
When we give, we expect nothing in return. However, unexpected health benefits are triggered when we help others.
Giving Imbues Us with a Sense of Euphoria
Endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that give us a “runner’s high” when we walk, run, and exercise, are also released when we perform an act of kindness. Their presence makes us feel happy, euphoric even, and the effect lasts beyond the first moment of pleasure.
Giving Lowers Our Blood Pressure
Various studies have shown that when we give to others our blood pressure actually decreases. Because stress and high blood pressure go hand in hand, reducing our blood pressure also reduces stress, the cause of many known health issues.
Giving Promotes Longer Life
Piggy-backing on the above point, when stress and blood pressure are reduced, better health, and thus longer life, can be the extended result. “One study involving people who were 55 and older, who volunteered for two or more organizations, were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t,” according to the article, Why Giving Is Good for Your Health, on the Cleveland Clinic website.
Giving Extends Our Social Connections
The physical effects of giving are many, but so are the psychological ones. Participating with other caring people in a shared cause creates strong and lasting bonds of friendship. Making friends and being part of an active social group increase our happiness and boost our sense of belonging.
Giving Can Inspire Others
Inspiration is also good for our mental health. It may take the form of us being inspired by someone else. When this occurs, we are given a worthy purpose to strive for, which also makes us happy and gives us hope. It may take the form of our inspiring someone else. When this occurs, we feel grateful and humbled for having done so. When we give, we inspire others to do the same.
Helping others in a variety of ways is always the right thing to do. When we give, there is no expectation of reward. This selfless act in itself is enough. Partly for that very reason, our bodies and our minds reap benefits we never imagined.