Turns out the old saying “it’s better to give than to receive” is backed up by some science. Besides warming your heart, giving may also improve your health by:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering stress levels
- Reducing depression
- Increasing self-esteem
- Boosting happiness and satisfaction
And it’s not just the giving things wrapped in pretty packages. Donating your time may offer similar advantages. Research indicates people who volunteer generally become happier and experience a boost in their mental health.
Here are three ideas for holiday giving that may offer a positive physical and mental return on investment:
1. Shop with a purpose. Create even more inspiration with gifts you share by buying them at places where the money is used to help others.
For instance, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation Simply Do Goods program offers all kinds of products, including bikes, books and plush toys, with 100% of the proceeds going to medical grants for children. Even better, the Grins2 program lets you donate what you buy to a participating children’s hospital. One child gets your gift, and the money you spend becomes part of a medical grant that helps another child.
2. Donate time and energy. The holidays are busy for many charities. Seasonal donation programs may require extra muscle for collecting, sorting and distributing toys and other gear. Special community meals may need volunteers for prepping, serving and cleanup.
Learn about ways to give your time at volunteermatch.org or on your favorite local charity’s website.
3. Give of yourself. Packed schedules, winter storms and seasonal illnesses are all reasons it may be more difficult for some people to make blood donation appointments — but the constant need remains. The Red Cross aims to bring in nearly 13,000 blood donations for patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide every day. It also collects plasma, platelets and red cells.
Learn more at redcrossblood.org or from other national blood donation organizations.
One more thing: If you enjoy the positive effects of giving during the holidays, consider making it a regular part of your routine in the new year. You may find it’s easier to stay connected to your community and can help keep the little things in everyday life from stressing you out.