Be kind and give more: Find out the benefits of giving for your mental health

Doing something for yourself can make you happy. But have you ever experienced the pure joy you can experience after giving something to others or doing something for someone? Giving through donations or volunteering can improve the lives of others, but did you know that it can also be good for your health? The benefits of giving are such that you can feel an instant boost in mood. You can also establish a sense of purpose and direction when you realize that what you are doing can positively affect the lives of others.

A link between happiness and spending money on causes and charities was found in a 2008 study published in the journal Science. On the other hand, the study showed that the money the participants spent on new things or personal expenses had no effect on happiness. Another study, published in the journal Emotion in 2016, suggests that doing “random acts of kindness” for others can help boost mood.

Giving has many benefits. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

What are the benefits of mental health benefits?

Donations have a positive impact on the giver’s mental health in a number of ways. When you donate mindfully, using your unique strengths and abilities, you’re not only giving something of significant value, you’re also engaging in fulfilling activities. This helps you have not only 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 direct mental health benefits. Giving, whether a modest gift or a meaningful gesture, makes us feel happy and satisfied, which can improve our mood and overall well-being.

2. Reducing stress

Giving has the potential to relieve stress. When a person engages in acts of compassion or giving to those in need, oxytocin, a hormone associated with stress reduction, is released. Therefore, donors often have reduced levels of stress and anxiety.

3. Reduced depression

Giving can reduce symptoms of depression, which can be managed by relying on one’s sense of purpose and the fulfilling emotions that come from helping others.

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4. Increased life satisfaction

Giving is considered to be a happy way of life. It enhances our sense of meaning and fulfillment in life, which increases our overall satisfaction with life.

5. Compassion

Giving encourages empathy and compassion, an expert says. Thinking about the needs and feelings of others fosters empathy.

6. Positive impact on cognitive functions

The act of giving can help improve areas of the brain associated with reward and pleasure, which has a positive impact on cognitive function, says Dr. Tugnait.

7. Developing appreciation

Giving makes us feel grateful and increases our awareness of the blessings in our lives. This can lead to greater gratitude and feelings of appreciation.

A woman helps a senior during exercise
Giving is not just about contributing money. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Giving is a noble gesture, and every act of kindness has the potential to inspire others. When people witness an act 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 overwork yourself and neglect your own needs. Excessive commitment to volunteer work or humanitarian causes can culminate in burnout.

So, balance genuine generosity with wise self-care. By occasionally recharging and replenishing your own reserves, you build 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 chores, don’t forget to fill up first.

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