With Thanksgiving and the holidays rapidly approaching, so is the season of giving. We have all heard the saying “It’s better to give than receive” many times. Giving can add richness to your life while also improving your health. Let’s discover the 5 health benefits of giving:
The act of giving can create a glow, as it stimulates parts of the brain with enjoyment, trust, and connection with others. Giving simulates a mesolimbic pathway that releases endorphins and creates the “helpers high.” These endorphins provide givers the drive to continue.
Did you know that those who perform charitable acts tend to have lower blood pressure? Researchers conducted a study to monitor blood pressure both when one performs an act of kindness and before and after spending money on oneself. Findings showed that those who performed the act of giving had lower blood pressure than those who spent on themselves, who did not see a decrease. Giving tends to reduce stress levels while increasing the hormone oxytocin, which decreases blood pressure.
Kind deeds reduce stress levels while also promoting a sense of well-being, which can support one’s immune system. Studies reveal that levels of T- cells, which are a special immune system cell, increase in our body. This helps in building a better defense against germs and infections. In addition, selfless acts have been shown to reduce inflammation, which is the underlying cause of a vast number of chronic illnesses.
Acts of giving can also help suppress physical pain through endorphin release—the body’s natural pain reliever. When your body releases endorphins, they interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins can also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to the feeling known as a “runner’s high” post-workout.
According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, people 55 and older who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over five years than those who didn’t volunteer. This study even factored in outliers such as age, exercise, general health, and negative habits like smoking.
As the holidays approach, we recommend adding daily or weekly acts of giving, kindness, or service to our lists. This will not only help others this holiday season, but also benefit our health!