Giving back makes us feel good. It gives us a sense a purpose and helps us feel connected to our communities. Whether it is by lending a hand or donating to a charity that inspires us, giving back enriches our lives. It also improves our health and lengthens our lives.
A study from California found that volunteering was four times as effective at lowering mortality rates than exercise. Specifically the study found that people ages 55 and over were 44% less likely to die within 5 years if they volunteered for at least two organizations. Similar results were found in a study in Michigan. Find a local organization to volunteer at or look for virtual volunteer opportunities.
Giving can also do a lot for our mental health. Currently in North America about 3 percent of adults have depression. Rates of depression have been have been rapidly rising for the last 50 years. Five percent of the world’s population experience depression, making it an epidemic according to the World Health Organization. Of course it can’t be understated how important it is to consult with a doctor or therapist to treat depression. However giving back has been linked to lower rates of depression.
Charitable giving and volunteering can leave us with long lasting good feelings. Mood boosting chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin are released when we give. Serotonin helps to stabilized our moods. Dopamine can help us feel happier. Oxytocin helps us feel closer to others. It can make us feel closer to our friends, family and community.
A 2017 study from Ireland highlighted the personal fulfillment volunteers can get from giving back. They narrowed down how we all can have the best volunteering experience. Here are seven factors to look for to increase well being.
365 is powered by volunteer writers, who find meaning in knowing their words can inspire others to give back. Check out this post from one of our writers on 10 ways to give back.