Could Giving Actually Be Good for Your Health?
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
- Winston Churchill
So, we all have that endless list of to-do’s around the Holidays…it starts well before Thanksgiving and doesn’t seem to end until after the Holidays. Tree trimming, food ordering/preparing and oh the dreaded gift shopping. Sometimes we even wonder if it’s all worth it and whether we’re just caught up in the materialism and consumerism of society…just sheep following the herd. Well, as it turns out, shopping and gift giving can actually be good for your health.
Research Backed Health Benefits of Giving
What about the age-old question…can money buy you happiness? Yes—so long as you spend the money on someone else. According to new research, giving other people even as little as $5 can lead to increased well-being for the giver.
A study by Harvard Business School found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more than spending it on themselves (despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier). Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.
I tried this recently with buying food items for the car behind me in the drive through.
It was a small amount, but I did feel really good and it was a wonderful experience of giving anonymously, without expecting anything in return.
One study shows that giving helps improve blood pressure in the same way exercise and medicine do. Giving also reduces the likelihood of anxiety and dementia according to the study. So if you want to stay young, give your time, energy and money away!
Gifts From the Heart
This year why not give a gift that keeps on giving? We all tend to have much more than we need or perhaps even want…so maybe this year it’s time to think outside the box and give a gift that will last all year. Some of the most cherished holiday memories and gifts I’ve received have included hand made or personalized gifts…often from my children. It started as a way to save money when the kids did not have money to purchase their own gifts…but we enjoyed it so much that even as they got older, we still continue this tradition.
The Gift of Experience
A recent study found that shared experiences make people a lot happier than material possessions do. They also reduce the clutter of unwanted gifts. Some ideas: give a certificate for cooking lessons, movie or concert tickets, a museum or science center membership or any outdoor activity. The point is something that will allow the recipient to spend time with you or others.
The experience may just be your time. Make a special effort to show loved ones and others that you care. Visit an elderly relative, invite a friend or neighbor to lunch, take your kids for an evening ride to enjoy the holiday decorations in your community.
Some additional ideas include offering a gift voucher to receive your choice of the following:
· Homemade dinner
· Yard Work
· Dog walk/sitting
· Movie Night
· Your Choice/Freebie
· Anything you know the recipient would enjoy but does not get a chance to do often/cannot afford/etc.
Another idea is to give the gift of “quality time” - things you can do together with the recipient. Ideas include the following:
· Bike Riding
· Dance/yoga/workout class
· Card/Board games
· Movie night (home or at the theatre)
· Take a class together
Volunteering: Giving Back in Your Community
Community volunteer opportunities are endless this time of the year. The best way to volunteer is to participate in something that you enjoy. Whether it’s collecting toys for children, blankets and cold weather items for the homeless or visiting a nursing home to uplift the elderly who don’t often get visitors – your gift of time will be greatly appreciated. Volunteering this time of year is just as beneficial for the giver as the recipient. If you are short on ideas, check out some suggestions here.
The Gift of Gratitude
One of the most powerful gifts you can give is also one of the simplest — saying thanks to the people who make a difference in our lives every day. Write a special note to a friend or loved one. Tape warm gloves or a water bottle to the lid of your garbage can for your trash collector. Leave a homemade treat in your mailbox as a surprise for your mail carrier. Bring pizza or a homemade meal to your local police station. A simple act of kindness can go a long way toward showing the appreciation you feel all year long.
Turns out expressing gratitude is also a gift that will keep on giving to you…the giver. Gratitude calls forth a deep appreciation for what exists, what we have, and who we are. The more we focus on the blessings of our lives, from the mundane to the profound, the more we have to be grateful for. It is a fascinating phenomenon and one that supports the idea that "like attracts like."
Are you ready to give yourself the greatest gifts of all? Health and JOY? If so, click the 'Contact' button in the top right corner or simply send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free discovery session.
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