Posted by Lindsey LeBaron

How giving back to others benefits your health

December 23, 2021 Behavioral Health

‘Tis the season for spending winter nights curled up next to the fireside, drinking hot chocolate, spending time with the family, and giving and receiving gifts. While the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping can bring added stress and anxiety to the season, studies have found that there are a lot of health benefits of giving.

What are the health benefits of giving? 

When you give to others, you can receive many health benefits you may not be aware of. Here are some researched-backed benefits of giving:

  1. Giving makes you happier: A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that giving to charities activates regions in the brain that release feelings of pleasure, social connection, and trust.
  2. Giving can help you sleep better: Giving your time to help others can create meaning and purpose in your life and help you sleep better at night. Biomed Central found that those who feel like they have a life purpose sleep better at night, are 63% less likely to have sleep apnea, and are 52% less likely to have restless leg syndrome.
  3. Giving is good for your health: Research has linked generosity to better health, especially for those with pre-existing conditions and complications associated with old age. Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, found that giving can increase health benefits for people who have chronic illnesses such as HIV and multiple sclerosis.
  4. Giving can help with anxiety and depression: Anxiety, depression, and stress are often linked to the daily problems and struggles of your personal life. Taking the focus away from your struggles, even for a few minutes, can quiet your mind in the same way that meditation is known to center your thoughts.
  5. Giving helps you be more grateful: Gratitude can be felt by both the giver and the receiver. A study conducted by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough found that those who “count their blessings” and are grateful for what they have, exercise more, are more optimistic, and feel better about their lives overall.

Ways to give back to others

While giving gifts in the traditional way can make you feel happier, there are many other ways you can give back and make a difference in the lives of others. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Donate food, toys, clothes, and hygiene items to a local charity like Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, Make a Wish Foundation, or the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area.
  2. Write a letter to a friend you have not seen in a while.
  3. Visit the Giving Machines to purchase something for someone less fortunate.
  4. Shovel snow off the driveway of a neighbor.
  5. Visit the elderly in an old folk’s home.

The health benefits of giving can make a lasting difference in your overall health and happiness. While giving gifts can improve your mental and physical health, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising daily are also important practices in helping you stay healthy long term. If you are looking for a physician to help in these and other areas, browse our website to find your next primary care provider.

WRITTEN BY:

Lindsey LeBaron

Lindsey LeBaron has been working as the Marketing Assistant for Revere Health for the past three years. Lindsey has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences at Brigham Young University and will graduate with her master’s degree in global strategic communications at Florida International University in December 2021. Coupled with her master’s degree, Lindsey is also working on a certification in crisis management and consensus-building. Recently, she was awarded the honor of joining the National Communications Association as a member of the Lambda Pi Eta honor society. Lindsey is passionate about building lasting connections between communities to create lasting change and believes that communication is a vital element to building long-lasting relationships. When she is out of the office, Lindsey enjoys singing and playing the piano, going on adventures, traveling to new locations, and reading books about world affairs.

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.