As a reaction to the mass consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday people around the world started Giving Tuesday. Last year it included 68 different countries. So we all know that giving helps other people, but can we actually help ourselves by giving?
There is a lot of research to indicate that there are health benefits, both psychological – which you’d expect – and physical, to giving. And giving includes giving a gift to someone else (thanks again to the person who left me a small gift on my desk this morning), donating your time, donating stuff, and donating money. So, what are some of these health benefits?
Lower blood pressure – Piferi and Lawler (2006) found that people who give social support had lower blood pressure overall than those who gave less social support. They also reported greater self-efficacy, greater self-esteem, less depression, and less stress.
Activates the reward centre of your brain – Moll and several colleagues (2006) found that charitable donations activated the reward system in the same way as when you receive a cash (or cash value) reward.
Reduced mortality – Oman, Thoresen, and Mcmahon (1999) found that seniors who volunteered for at least 2 hours had lower mortality than those who didn’t volunteer. This result held even after controlling for other factors like health habits, social support, health status, and emotional status.
There are a lot of excuses to not give: I don’t have time, I can’t afford to, I don’t know how. But perhaps some of these health benefits will help to overrule the excuses and make giving happen more often.