We might now realize it, but our lives are full of instances where we give back – even if it’s not in the form of a charitable, monetary donation.
We give our time and attention to loved ones, friends, our work, and coworkers. We give back to the community through volunteering.
We give back to the planet by being more environmentally conscious. And we’re always ready to lend a helping hand when others are in need.
A growing body of research suggests that being generous can have a positive effect on your physical and psychological well-being. Here are some ways giving back affects your mental health:
The Science Behind the Helper’s High
You know how you feel instantly happier after doing something nice for someone else? Turns out there’s science behind this surge of happiness.
Giving back has many benefits for your mental and physical health, which include lower stress levels, blood pressure, and sadness, along with improved self-esteem, a longer life, and greater happiness.
Other studies suggest that performing small acts of kindness can lift your spirits and release the happy chemical in your brain.
Your body releases dopamine after you perform these acts, resulting in what is called a “helper’s high.”
Good Deeds Foster Gratitude
It’s not just the receiver who feels uplifted and thankful for a good deed – even the giver enjoys a heightened sense of gratitude.
When we see others benefit from our efforts, we feel thankful for the things we can offer. According to research, this is linked to well-being, joy, and social connections.
We learn how to not take things for granted and how we have the privilege of helping others.
Grateful people are happier and less likely to suffer from depression regardless of how they experience appreciation.
It Gives You a Purpose in Life
When we give of our time or money, we become part of something bigger than ourselves. It ties us to a broader mission and fosters a sense of purpose and belonging.
People in their 30s to their 80s showed meaningful cognitive gains from a sense of direction in life, according to a 2017 study.
Teenagers also showed similar responses. Self-esteem was higher among teens who felt a strong sense of duty.
They were better prepared for the maturity and independence needed to be a responsible adult.
Provides You with a Community
Giving back can also help to build a network of like-minded people who share the same values of altruism. Whether it’s fighting cancer or donating to orphans in the Philippines, supporting a worthy cause can ease mental health challenges and help you feel less lonely.
Orphan Life Foundation is an orphanage and non-profit organization where we are all about gratitude and uplifting orphaned children through wellness programs.
We encourage people to donate clothes to orphanages along with school supplies and learning materials.