Be kind and give more: Know the benefits of giving for your mental health

An act of kindness goes a long way. It not only helps the person who is receiving it, but also the giver. Here are some mental health benefits of giving.
Giving is good for mental health
Giving is good for mental health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 14 Nov 2023, 06:44 pm IST
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Doing something for yourself can make you happy. But have you ever experienced the seamless joy you can experience after giving something to others or doing something for someone? Giving through donations or volunteering can improve the lives of others, but did you know it could also be good for your own health? The benefits of giving are such that you can feel an instant upliftment of mood. You can also establish a feeling of purpose and direction when you realize that the lives of others can be positively impacted by what you do.

A link between happiness and spending money on causes and charities was found in a 2008 study published in the Science journal. On the other hand, the study showed that money that was spent by participants on new things or personal expenses did not have any effect on happiness. Another study, published in the Emotion journal in 2016, suggested that doing “random acts of kindness” for others can help to boost mood.

Woman feeding a senior
Giving has many benefits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the mental health benefits of giving?

Contributions have a positive impact on the giver’s mental health in several ways. When you donate mindfully, leveraging your unique strengths and capabilities, you not only impart something of meaningful worth but also engage in an activity that is fulfilling for you. This helps to have not only a sense of connection, but also joy and gratitude. This enhances your emotional and psychological wellness, says psychotherapist, life and business coach Dr Chandni Tugnait.

Here are some ways giving can be good for your health:

1. The joy of giving

The joy that comes from giving is one of the most direct advantages to mental health. Giving, whether a modest present or a significant gesture, makes us feel happy and satisfied, which can improve our mood and general well-being.

2. Reduction of stress

Giving has the potential to relieve stress. When a person engages in deeds of compassion or giving to the needy, oxytocin, which is a hormone linked to stress reduction, gets released. So, givers frequently have reduced stress and anxiety levels.

3. Reduced depression

Giving can reduce symptoms of depression, which can be managed by drawing on one’s sense of purpose and the fulfilling emotions that come from helping others.

4. Enhanced life contentment

Giving is thought to be a happy way of living. It improves our sense of meaning and fulfilment in life, which raises our degree of general life satisfaction.

5. Compassion

Giving fosters empathy and compassion, says the expert. Thinking about the needs and feelings of others encourages empathy.

6. Positive impact on cognitive function

The act of giving may help to improve brain areas that are associated with reward and pleasure, which have a positive impact on the cognitive function, says Dr Tugnait.

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7. Developing appreciation

Giving makes one feel grateful and heightens our awareness of the blessings in our own lives. It can lead to greater gratitude and sentiments of appreciation.

Woman helping a senior during workout
Giving is not just about contributing money. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Giving is a noble gesture, and every act of kindness has the potential to inspire others. When people witness acts of giving, they are often inspired to contribute themselves, creating a cycle of generosity that can transform communities. But it can go too far if it causes you to overextend yourself and disregard your necessities. Overcommitting to volunteer work or humanitarian causes can culminate in burnout.

So, balance heartfelt generosity with wise self-care. By periodically recharging and refueling your own reserves, you generate the stamina to keep giving at a sustainable pace, for the greater good.

Next time, you decide to help a neighbour with groceries or doing a housemate’s chores, don’t forget to recharge yourself first.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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