The established, and perhaps the known fact about giving, is that it’s always done to benefit others. Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen or decide to fly off to a remote island with the Red Cross, the assumption is that you’re helping others, the only apparent benefit being a warm and fuzzy feeling. But researchers have found that there is more to it than just the feeling!
Studies show that the so-called “warm and fuzzy” feeling can be beneficial to boosting your physical and mental health. In a world where people are stressed out over health, political issues, and maybe their next-door neighbour taking down a tree, the “warm and fuzzy” feeling is welcome if it makes you feel a lot less stressed.
According to researchers, helping others regardless of how it is done can help provide the following health benefits:
- Make you feel less depressed
- Lower blood pressure
- Feel more happy and satisfied
- Lower stress levels
- Longer life
- Increased self-esteem
Researchers found that people involved in philanthropy experienced less blood pressure as compared to people who didn’t do anything to help others. Furthermore, volunteering may help people from recovering from various coronary-related episodes.
People who take out time to help others in their community and with organizational involvement will experience greater self-esteem and be less stressed and depressed than those who don’t.
Live Longer By Giving
A study found that people aged 55 and above who decided to volunteer for a couple of organizations were around 44% less likely to die over the next few years than those who didn’t volunteer. The study accounts for various other factors like general health, age, exercise, and adverse health habits like taking drugs or smoking.
Another study of the elderly found that people who helped their relatives, friends, and neighbors in terms of emotional support or physical support saw similar figures to the above study. In other words, helping people not only makes you a better person but could also help you live longer, and who does not want that?
Make You Feel Happier
It has been found that giving can biologically create what is defined as a “warm glow,” which refers to a region of the brain that’s activated. The regions associated with pleasure and trust are activated when you give; that’s why people feel excited when they are going to give a gift, or why many people report feeling very happy when returning after volunteering.
Now there is some evidence that human beings secrete what’s called a “feel good” chemical in the brain when they are giving something. The chemicals include serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine, all of which are responsible for the “feel good” feeling that many people report.
When looking at various MRIs of people who give via charities or on their own, researchers found that giving helps stimulate the mesolimbic pathway, which is defined as the brain’s reward center. The consequent endorphin release is what leads to “Helpers High.”
Get High with Sharing and Helping
Interestingly, like all other highs, the high of giving is addictive similar to maybe one induced by drugs. That’s why it’s a good idea to go out and help someone. In fact, it’s the type of high that you’ll want always to get more of; here, charities and NGOs can ensure that you get a steady release of endorphins all the time. Furthermore, it takes away the stress of work and life, which could otherwise shorten your life as we speak, which makes giving good for your health, regardless of how you look at it.