Five Ways Generosity Boosts Your Health

September 5th is International Charity Day.  Whether you donate your money or clothes or home goods or skills or time, being generous toward others gives your mental and physical health a boost!  Here are five reasons why practicing generosity is good for health.

1)  Generosity alleviates anxiety and depression.

When you practice generosity, you focus on other people and their needs, instead of focusing on your own.  Getting out of your head (and, if you’re doing volunteer work, out of your house), gives you the opportunity to leave thoughts of anxiety, worry and sadness behind.

2)  Generosity alleviates chronic pain.

Using your time, energy and money to provide for other people’s needs activates the mesolimbic pathway in your brain, causing a surge in dopamine and oxytocin.  These compounds improve your mood, increase your gratification, and decrease your body’s sensitivity to pain. People who regularly volunteer or donate to charities experience less physical pain, and experience greater satisfaction with their lives.

3)  Generosity reduces your risk of dementia.

Older adults who spend time doing volunteer work consistently have lower rates of dementia.  Researchers attribute this to the fact that volunteer work keeps older adults physically active and offers them tasks to focus on that keep their minds stimulated.  Studies show that if you volunteer for just one hour a week, you’re 2.5 times less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia than your counterparts.

4)  Generosity lowers your blood pressure.

Researchers did an experiment where they gave participants diagnosed with high blood pressure $40 to spend each week. They instructed half of the group to spend the $40 on themselves, and the other half to spend the $40 on other people.  The subjects who spent the money on other people had a significant drop in blood pressure -- so much so that giving money to other people dropped their blood pressure as effectively as the blood pressure medicine they had been prescribed!  

5)  Generosity helps you live longer.

People who engage in volunteer work live longer than those who don’t.  This is due to a variety of factors, both psychological and physiological.  They are less isolated, less depressed, and derive greater satisfaction from life.  They have better-managed chronic health issues, and fewer debilitating diagnoses. All combined, these factors translate to longer, healthier, happier life.

Looking for an opportunity to volunteer?  Check out VolunteerMatch to find opportunities near you!

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At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we want our patients to be as happy and healthy as possible!  Visit any of our six Bay Area locations seven days a week to get the care you need.

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