It is that time of year when many people are giving. Children find joy in receiving gifts, but as adults we discover that we get the most joy from giving. Giving can be in the form of presenting gifts, giving money, serving others and sacrificing. Giving is one of the healthiest of human attributes that can make us healthier in a number of ways.

Research has shown that giving can improve our overall health, give us more happiness, have a positive impact on our mental health, improve our immune function, reduce stress, and reduce pain.

When we give, either our possessions or our time, we create purpose and meaning in our lives. We become involved in supportive and positive social networks, which can be beneficial to our health. We then begin to see ourselves as being part of something bigger. We become less self-absorbed and less physically or emotionally isolated.

Research has found that those who give have brain activity that is associated with positive emotions. Those who give are happier than those who don’t. Those who give also have improved mental health, including less depression and less anxiety.

Volunteering, one way to serve and give our time, has been shown to create positive feelings during hardships and create confidence. Volunteering usually also provides social interaction, itself a powerful healing force. Science has described those who volunteer as having a ‘helper’s high’ that decreases pain and a ‘healthy helper syndrome,’ which is the overall improved well-being that we experience volunteering our time, including an improved immune system. Volunteering can also reduce stress, creating a better environment for health.

Giving to charity increases overall well-being and can improve sleep. Those who donate money may experience improved immune function, improved mental health, and have an increased sense of well-being.

During this season of giving and the following year, consider giving or serving others. It can improve both their health and your own health. Science has proved that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

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