The wellbeing benefits of giving
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in a frenzy of gift contributing, buying and giving this last week or so. As well as saying thank you to friends and family with specific gifts that I’ve planned uniquely for them, I’ve also been asked to contribute to group gifts for certain people who have gone above and beyond in the things they’ve done for others this year. Of course, I’ve been more than happy to thank these people with a lovely gift. This got me thinking about the wellbeing aspect of giving and the different forms of giving. This year may just be the year to think differently about what you can give especially if you are still trying to think about what to give to specific people.
FORMS OF GIVING
Things you can acquire and wrap. This could include homemade things too which often have extra meaning for the receiver.
You can Google experiential gifts and buy vouchers or why not make up your own voucher for someone for an experience such as a meal out somewhere they’ve always wanted to go, a tour of a historic house or museum, a ride on a steam train, a canal boat weekend trip, an art lesson etc. Let your imagination run wild.
Cash / cheques / transfers, vouchers or donations to individuals, organisations and small businesses that you love.
Your time, presence and energy as a gift
Volunteering, spending time with others and giving your full attention to others. You could make up a voucher to do someone’s housecleaning, ironing, gardening, babysitting, pet sitting, car washing etc for a week or month. You could also commit to a regular video or phone call with someone or sending a postcard / letter regularly to them.
BENEFITS OF GIVING TO YOUR WELLBEING
Not only does giving benefit the receiver, but it also greatly increases the giver’s wellbeing too.
Increases your happiness
Giving secretes feel good chemicals in your brain: serotonin (mood-mediating); dopamine (feel-good): and oxytocin (compassion and bonding).
Enhances your mental and physical health
Research shows that giving can improve your mood and self esteem which in turn can boost your immune system and lower blood pressure.
Increases your feelings of gratitude
Gratitude improves relationships and physical and mental health. It reduces anger and aggression. It helps you sleep better.
Fosters connection, trust and co operation
Experiential and giving your time and energy gifts help create, maintain, and strengthen social connections. These activities can also help reduce your own loneliness and isolation.
Can introduce to you a new career or hobby
Giving can provide you with a sense of purpose, but it can also help you discover work that you’re passionate about such as volunteering, care giving or a new hobby through home made products, crafts and art.
As the saying goes Put the oxygen mask on yourself first. You must give to yourself to be of use to others. Giving regular and consistent self-care to yourself will better position you to give to others.
Start as you intend to go on
Allow your generosity of the season to spark a giving practice that continues throughout the year.
We’d love to hear all about your giving ideas and benefits.