Health Benefits of Giving Back
Everyone is not as lucky as we are; giving back to the community lets us spread happiness and make a difference in their lives.
And it comes with a lot of excitement and fun. Besides boosting your social awareness and opening up more opportunities to meet people and make new friends, studies found it could also benefit your health.
For instance, a University of Michigan research revealed that volunteers have stronger heart health and lower cholesterol levels than non-volunteers.
Other studies also found giving back could:
- Lower the blood pressure
- Reduce depression and anxiety
- Improves the lifespan
- Increase mental health
This article examines these health benefits in detail. So, let's get to it.
It Lowers Blood Pressure
Spending money on others may lower blood pressure just as a healthy diet and exercise.
The National Library of Medicine ran a study to determine if prosocial spending (spending money on others) lowers blood pressure.
It divided about 73 older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure into two groups and assigned them to spend money on themselves or others.
The study found that those who spent money on others for three consecutive weeks exhibited lower blood pressure than the other participants who spent money on themselves, suggesting that giving shapes cardiovascular health.
So by giving, you're invariably paying for good health.
Improves Self-Esteem and Confidence
People suffering from low self-esteem quickly get caught up in their thoughts, and thinking about their lack of self-confidence could even make things worse.
But studies found you could regain confidence by breaking out of that shell.
Thankfully, giving to people that need it or volunteering in meaningful causes offers you an energizing escape. It lets you focus on others and away from your thoughts as you make a difference in their lives, immersing in their happiness.
Jennifer Crocker and Amy Canevello, psychologists at the University of Michigan, believe nothing makes a person prouder than knowing they are making a positive difference in the lives of others.
It makes you feel special, knowing people value the efforts you make towards their happiness.
Also, according to Barbara Fredrickson, giving makes people feel more confident and capable, leading them to believe they can accomplish more in the future.
Lowers Stress Levels
Stress strains the body, resulting in serious health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, illnesses, and mental disorders like depression or anxiety.
But Stephen G. Post, professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University, believes small acts of kindness could help lower your stress level.
Of course, a relationship between giving and stress level reduction appears out of place for some people, but several studies prove he is right.
For instance, 73% of the respondents in a national survey of 4,582 American adults claimed volunteering lowered their stress level, while 68% said it made them physically healthier. Another research also found helping others dampens the effect of everyday stress.
These studies show that doing good holds promising implications for people experiencing high stress levels.
It Drives Happiness and Satisfaction
We work so hard every day to save up money to buy things we believe will bring us happiness and satisfaction, but studies show that spending money on others gives us greater pleasure than spending it on ourselves.
Of course, you don't have to break banks to do good to others; even the most minor acts of kindness could make you experience this level of happiness.
According to Medical News Daily, these acts of kindness encourage the body to release happiness chemicals like dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel pleasure.
The brain releases it when we do things that make us feel good or complete a task, enabling our inner peace and a sense of purpose.
Giving Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety is a vital part of our lives, helping us identify and respond quickly to dangers or deal with challenges. It could also allow us to perform better and creatively.
But the other side of anxiety (persistent anxiety) is that it could cause emotional strain, panic attacks, phobias, and depressions, leading to physical and mental health deterioration.
WebMD, an online source for credible health information, noted that anxiety and low self-esteem are some of the stressors that contribute to mental illness in susceptible humans.
Now, the good news is volunteering or giving back to the community can reduce anxiety and depression, and here's how.
- Committing to causes you care about connects you to others in a vibrant community, helping you deal with a significant cause of depression and anxiety—loneliness.
- Giving to people who need it boosts your social awareness, causing a natural shift in perspective and providing a valuable sense of purpose.
- It immerses you in physical activities, letting you focus on the needs of others rather than on yourself.
It Could Help You Live Longer
Giving to others impacts your life as much as the lives of others.
Simple generous acts like donating to charity, baking cookies for the elderly, or volunteering at a homeless shelter could make you live longer.
Several studies found a link between giving and longer life.
For instance, University of Michigan research involving 423 older couples over five years revealed people who failed to help others were twice more likely to die than those that helped.
According to the researchers, giving to a spouse or non-relatives was both independently linked to a lower chance of mortality, meaning you'll enjoy a longer lifespan regardless of who you give.
However, this theory doesn't hold for those giving for personal benefits.
A study published in Health Psychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association, found a link between giving motive and mortality risk in older adults.
It Can Prevent Cognitive Issues at Old Age
The risk of dementia increases substantially with old age. But a study found volunteering in later life can prevent cognitive issues at old age.
The researchers also noted that seniors engaged in regular formal volunteering develop improved memory and fewer functional limitations, suggesting it's never too early or late to commit to meaningful causes.
In a different study, Yannick Griep, a psychology professor at the University of Calgary, also found that people that regularly volunteer at least one hour weekly were more than twice less likely to have dementia than non-volunteering seniors.
As a result, the research team recommends that retired seniors volunteer at least an hour every week. It engages their mind in meaning things, allowing them to stay sharper cognitively.
Wrapping It Up
I'll leave you with these stats. In that national survey of American adults I cited earlier:
- According to 96% of respondents, volunteering made them happier.
- Another 68% said it made them physically healthier
- Some 89% of participants said it enriches their sense of purpose
- Another 77% agreed it improved their emotional health, and
- About 78% said it helped them recover from loss and disappointment.
It's more blessed to give than to receive, especially when done with pure motives.
Several studies have found that people who give to others regularly are happier, live longer, and lead more meaningful lives, and you could enjoy these immense benefits by giving.
And the truth is you don't have to spend big to impact lives, even the smallest of kindness like shoveling snow from your neighbor's sidewalk could place you on the same pedestal.