Wellness Wednesday: Fostering Social Wellness Through Giving
As we enter the season of giving, it’s important to remember the value of charity. Giving your time and efforts to other people isn’t just the right thing to do—it can have positive long-term effects on your mind and body!
Research has shown that volunteering and giving can have health benefits for adults. A 2018 study found that “participation in voluntary service is significantly predictive of better mental and physical health, life satisfaction, self-esteem, happiness, lower depressive symptoms, psychological distress, and mortality and functional inability.”
The Chemistry of Caring
Acts of charity and community-building can trigger uplifting brain chemicals that contribute to our happiness. These chemicals include:
- Dopamine: The habit-forming chemical that gives you a powerful sense of accomplishment for achieving goals.
- Oxytocin: The “love hormone,” oxytocin boosts our immune system and provides feelings of calm and safety. It promotes feelings of love, friendship, and deep trust—making oxytocin a chemical glue that binds us to other people.
- Serotonin: Sometimes known as the "Leadership hormone," serotonin can help us generate strong, positive emotions when we receive acknowledgement from others. When we feel pride for winning an award, that rush of positive energy we're feeling is fueled by serotonin.
One Way You Can Help
One way to give to others in need is to donate blood. Donor blood has the ability to save millions of lives every year. Take a look at these facts, provided by the Red Cross and Life Stream Blood Bank:
- 1 in 7 hospital patients will need blood.
- Transfusions require an average of 3 units of donated blood.
- About 38% of people are eligible to donate blood.
- Donors save up to 3 lives per donation.
- Someone in the US needs donor blood every 2 seconds.
- Patients in treatment for cancer may require donor blood daily.
- Less than 5% of eligible people will actually donate.