As you try to find joy this holiday season, giving back to organizations and people within the community – or across the globe – is one of the paths you should consider. And while the altruistic aspect is important, giving back also boosts your own mood. Multiple studies have confirmed the positive impacts of giving back, including this one that indicates charitable giving is closely aligned with happiness. Giving to others or volunteering your time in meaningful ways can also help reduce stress and anxiety, lower the risk of depression, and boost overall life satisfaction. That’s because when you help others, dopamine is released in the brain, which helps improve your mood and triggers positive feelings.
Supporting organizations with missions that align with your personal passions is important, but you first need to do some research and ensure that your contribution will be used appropriately. If you need help finding a worthy charity or want to ensure that your donation is utilized effectively, visiting www.charitynavigator.org is a good first step. The website makes it easy to assess an organization and find one that matches up with your personal interests and values.
During the holiday season all types of giving will be appreciated, but you may be able to increase your own sense of satisfaction with these tips:
- Contribute to specific projects where you know your donation will make a difference in a very tangible way, such as providing shelter for an unhoused family for two nights or delivering meals and ensuring companionship to 10 isolated seniors during the holidays.
- Support specific people or groups with situations or goals that strike an emotional chord with you. From children with a parent serving in the military away from home to refugee families that are new to the area and struggling to find connections, finding a cause that resonates with you will bring more joy to your giving. If you aren’t sure where you want to help, this website is a good place to start.
- Give of your time and see the impact of your service in person. Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen, deliver toys to children, or spend time at a shelter, meeting the people you are serving and supporting is a personal experience you won’t soon forget.
- Consider giving smaller donations on a regular basis throughout the year or committing to volunteering a few hours of your time every month. This way you know you are making a consistent difference.
If you are interested in helping important the health and well-being of those in our community, you can also consider supporting the El Camino Health Foundation which helps El Camino Health provide an exceptional level of care that’s not always covered by fees and reimbursements.
No matter what your goals or limitations are when it comes to giving, it’s important to remember that every little bit helps – and it’s all important. Embracing the spirit of generosity is all it takes to help you be more aware of the needs of other and the opportunities you have to make a difference in the community, no matter how much or little you have to give!
This article appeared in the December 2023 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.