The Benefits of Giving, How Generosity Can Improve Your HealthNow more than ever, the world needs more compassion and generosity. Many are suffering mentally and emotionally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—and one possible way to alleviate this is to show kindness to others. According to experts, generosity can have a positive impact on individuals’ well-being. There are many benefits of giving, improving the health and financial well-being of not only the receiver but the giver too.

How Generosity Improves Emotional Health

The concept of “helper’s high” refers to the positive emotional response one experiences after performing an act of generosity. According to experts, this emotion is associated with “greater health and increased longevity.” A recent study has proven that acts of altruism trigger activity in the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), a part of the brain that is linked to the brain’s reward system.

During a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the giving and receiving parties can benefit from generosity. Another study found that different types of generosity can have different effects on individuals. The researchers found that performing generous acts for those close to us can reduce activity in the amygdala, a part of the human brain associated with stress and anxiety.

However, they also found that less targeted actions, such as giving to charity, also trigger activity in the ventral striatum, a region associated with compassion and care in mammals. Time and time again, studies have shown that acts of kindness toward both your loved ones and strangers can improve your mental and emotional health. Thus, it is especially important during this unprecedented time of crisis to find ways to show kindness.

How Giving Can Improve Your Financial Well-Being

On top of reducing one’s own stress and emotional turmoil, there are financial benefits of giving. During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have struggled as a result of business closures, limited job opportunities and a struggling economy. Although it may seem counterintuitive to donate money to others when finances seem scarce, there are both practical and mental benefits to giving.

Under the current federal COVID-19 relief provisions, donating money can provide more tax breaks than ever before. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act for short, allows individuals up to $300 in charitable contribution deductions. It also raised the limit on charitable contributions from 60 to “up to 100% of 2020 adjusted gross income,” if the deductions are itemized.

The financial benefits of giving do not just end at tax deductions, though. Financial planner Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz believes that charitable contributions are important to reformulate the ways in which we perceive money. Money should be spent wisely, and that includes putting it toward causes and issues that one cares about.

Ways to Give

During the COVID-19 pandemic, generosity, compassion and giving are especially important. There are also more ways than ever to help, both big and small. One easy way is to complete small tasks such as grocery shopping or making care packages for your loved ones who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. There are also ways to support your community such as by making and distributing cloth face masks or by collecting and donating food for those in need. An even simpler way to help is through donations. There are many around the world who are suffering as a result of the ongoing pandemic, so now is a great time to give to causes you care about.

Individuals suffering from extreme poverty can be more susceptible to COVID-19 and can suffer more from the pandemic’s socio-economic consequences. The Borgen Project is accepting donations so that it can do as much as possible to make this issue central to American foreign policy in the future. Donating will not only help those who need it the most but the donator too.

– Leina Gabra
Photo: Flickr 

There are a variety of ways in which giving back to the community, both local and global, are beneficial:

1. Giving back can foster growth in a company or for an entrepreneur by providing an opportunity to listen and learn from the community (what it wants, and what it needs, and what it means to give). The act of giving back doesn’t have to proceed without thought of what the company needs or even what the company desires to give. Developing a standard policy about the causes you’re willing to donate to and support will allow the charities and organizations that approach you to be in support of your commitment.

The conversation can grow beyond guilt and into one of support. When it comes to listening to the community your business or organization might serve (be it a specific location or a certain demographic) you become more informed by the goals and needs of the community you’re attempting to serve and can tailor future projects towards these goals and needs.

2. An obvious benefit of giving back is that it helps the community, whether the help is on a global scale (foreign aid donations, clothing/food/etc. donations in the wake of natural disasters, or volunteer work) or a local one (donating food to a food bank, volunteering to help students after school, or aiding in cleaning up local waterways), the community improves.

Especially when aid involves helping others make progress beyond the limits of economic, educational, or social blockades. While the changes may be more difficult to grasp on a global level, at the local level the progress made is also visible. Which leads to…

3. Giving back, especially on an individual level (such as tutoring, mentoring a child or volunteering in a soup kitchen), is good for your health. Depending on the work one is doing: physical health can be improved by increased activity, regulated sleep schedules, and better sleep in general, stress relief, and can help reduce the risk of certain health problems, like heart attacks and strokes.

There are studies that show volunteer work can make people happier by boosting not only physical health but also by promoting social interactions and of course the good vibes that come from contributing to the community. This potentially happier and healthier mindset promotes a desire to give back more.

4. Maybe you’re looking for a career change or a career boost, a volunteer opportunity would be a great and beneficial way to begin. Whether you’re writing grants in your spare time or building houses, volunteering is work.

It takes and builds skills and understanding and provides the professional or someone just starting out with a network of people just as invested as they are in the progress of whatever project is in the works. In similar fashion, volunteer work provides a foothold into and gives one a stake in the community

5. Having a stake in the community means coming in contact with community members who may often be overlooked, ignored, or outright scorned depending on their situations. This works both on a local and global scale.

It’s easier to see why more needs to be done on a legislative level if one can see that even with aid programs there are still limits to what someone working full-time or someone on disability or someone without running water, electricity, the list goes on, is capable of doing when the law ignores, fails to protect, or actively works against them.

Meeting other members of your community may also be as simple as visiting a retirement community with your dog or helping out in the community garden. Whatever you end up doing you’re getting a better understanding of the community of which you are a part and its needs.

– The Borgen Project

Sources: Huffington PostSouthern Alpha 
Photo: NCHS