Doing Good Does a Body Good

By Laurie Silverstein, CCE Marketing and Social Media Intern

We’re all familiar with the feeling of satisfaction you get after hitting the gym, cooking a healthy meal, or meditating. These small changes can put you on the right track towards living a healthier lifestyle.  But did you know altruism – unselfishly giving to others – can have the same positive effects? The benefits to the receiver are self-explanatory, but the benefits to the giver can include better psychological and physical health and over time, a longer lifespan.

Not convinced yet? Here’s nine more reasons to get involved and give back.

1.      Your immune system will function better. Altruism can reduce your response to stress or even block it entirely. Stress suppresses your immune system, so less stress means you’ll get sick less frequently.
2.      Your heart will be healthier. Stress also increases your heart rate and blood pressure, so a little bit of volunteering can reduce those effects.
3.      You’ll feel relaxed. Altruism creates the opposite of the stress response: the relaxation response. You’ll feel calm and happy after a day of giving back.
4.      Your aches and pains could be reduced. When you volunteer, endorphins are released. These brain chemicals block pain and cause you to feel joy.
5.      You’ll feel happy more frequently and more intensely. Positive emotions can reduce the physical burdens of stress.
6.      Your self-esteem will increase. Simply put, you feel good about yourself after a day of doing good.
7.      Your mental health will improve. Positive emotions and high self-esteem are key in improving mental health, mainly because you’re shifting your attention away from yourself and your problems for a while.
8.      You’ll build a social support system. Volunteering provides you with an important role in your community, and it’s a great way to make friends.
9.      Your spiritual health will improve. Altruism is a great way to put your personal morals and values into practice.

Studies have shown that donating money doesn’t have the same physical and psychological benefits, so go out and get actively engaged in the community! Look for an activity you enjoy that also puts you into contact with other people. Finding and sharing your passion with others can make it an even more rewarding experience.
For ideas on how you can get involved in the Binghamton community, stop by the Center for Civic Engagement in Library South Ground 548 or visit our website.

Insel, Paul M., Walton T. Roth, and M. "Managing Stress." Core Concepts in Health.
13th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2014. 45. Print.
Sternberg, Esther M. "Approaches to Defining Mechanisms by Which Altruistic Love Affects
Health." Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, Altruism, Compassion, Service(2001): n. pag. Approaches to Defining Mechanisms by Which Altruistic Love Affects Health (Esther Sternberg). Web.

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