Do Good, Feel Good – How Helping Out Benefits Your Health
What is it about ‘doing good’ that is so beneficial for you physically and emotionally? People who make donations, volunteer or do charitable work often say they get more out of it than what they give. Researchers are doing studies and obtaining results that support their claims.
Physical health benefits
The Harvard School of Public Health is currently studying more about the link between a person’s ‘sense of purpose’ and their cardiovascular health. In a study of adults of over 50 who gave about four hours of their time every week, researchers found that they were 40% less likely than people who didn’t volunteer to develop hypertension over the next four years. This lowered their chances of heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
Heart diseases and strokes, for which high blood pressure is a key risk factor, is a leading killer worldwide. The rising costs of health care are making people look at different healthcare solutions, like Healthcare sharing programs, where they can share medical expenses with other like-minded people and reduce their costs. At US HealthShare they can find out more about the different healthshare programs and what they have to offer.
Volunteering can create a shared sense of hope and helps to keep reality in perspective. People often manage pain and stress better when they focus their attention on others in a healthy way. Stimulating the brain with act of kindness releases endorphins and these are natural painkillers.
Volunteering not only releases endorphins but also oxytocin, known as ‘the love hormone,’ serotonin, a mood stabilizer, and dopamine which controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. There is even a term for this known as ‘the helper’s high.’ When you do something good for someone else, the pleasure centers in your brain light up.
Emotionally, volunteering has been shown to help people feel more socially connected and prevent depression, loneliness and other mental illnesses. As little as a hundred hours of volunteering, which is less than two hours a week, can positively boost your health. There is no specific volunteering task you need to do and it can be any giving act done for others and not for selfish reasons.
If you love animals, kids, or helping the homeless, there are plenty of programs you can get involved in. Volunteer with a cause you’re passionate about.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a whole day to give – start small and find ways that align with your other obligations, like family and work.
Look for opportunities close to home. You can often do the most good by helping out neighbors or friends.
Give a little, gain a lot
Simple acts of compassion are a good place to start if you don’t feel you are cut out for formal volunteering. Try out some of these suggestions and see how it makes you feel. -Have tea with an elderly neighbor who doesn’t get out much. -Let an elderly person or a pregnant woman go ahead of you in a queue. -Carry out a spontaneous park clean-up. -Tutor a student who is preparing for exams. -Doing good will motivate you to do good again
Even thinking about the times you have helped others apparently encourages you to want to do it again. Reflecting on past good deeds makes you feel better about yourself and makes you want to do more. You will want to keep doing good deeds over and over again. Remember that volunteering isn’t just good for others – it’s good for you too!