The Season of Giving: how helping others can improve your health

The Season of Giving: how helping others can improve your health

Patrick is a successful millennial business owner living and working in the Seattle area. He currently owns two restaurants near downtown and is looking to open a third later this year. Although Patrick may seem like he has it all, inside Patrick feels stressed and lonely. Running 2 successful restaurants is no easy task and he rarely takes time off to enjoy the company of his friends and family. On top of that, opening up his third restaurant has proven more difficult than the other 2 because of city regulations restricting modifications to the building he selected. He’s been running on fumes the last few months and doesn’t know how much longer he can sustain his current lifestyle. How can Patrick get his stress levels under control and engage with others more? In this article, we’ll delve into various strategies Patrick can utilize to do just that.

Giving is the best medicine

charity - giving is the best medicine

All around the world, the holiday season is often referred to as the “Season of giving”. Giving my time, energy and money towards causes I believe in is something that I value very much. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, one of the best ways Patrick can reduce his stress levels and get his life back under control is by giving back to others. In a recent study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Adults over the age of 50 were examined to see if their regularity of volunteering had any effect on their overall health.

What the study found was that participants who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. High blood pressure is an important indicator of health because it can contribute to various degenerative diseases such as heart disease, stroke and premature death. It was also shown that volunteering acts that involved physical activity increased cardiovascular health while volunteering acts involving mental stimuli such as tutoring and reading improved participants memory and reasoning skills. As you can see, there are many benefits that Patrick can gain from volunteering his time and skills to the community. Next, we’ll discuss how Patrick can find a community service group that’s right for him.

Join a community service group

charity - community service group

The first question you may be asking yourself is “What’s a community service group?” These groups are comprised of individuals who volunteer in the community in which they live. They can be associated with a church, non-profit or the city and often have volunteer opportunities where people can donate a few hours of their day giving back to the community. Some of the most common community service groups are the Rotary club, Lions club, Kiwanis etc. Many of these groups don’t have time commitment requirements so you can just sign up for volunteer events whenever time permits. Attending events is also a great way to meet new people and make friends within your community.

This week, take some time to research what community service groups are available in your area. Come up with a list of 2-3 and commit to attending at least 1-2 events over the next month. If you find one that speaks to you and enjoy attending, make it a habit to give back whenever time permits. Not only will you feel better as a result of your contribution, you’ll help improve your overall well-being. Along with community service groups, there are also many charities dedicated to making a positive impact on the world. In the next section, we’ll go over how you can find an efficient charity that lines up with your values.

Finding the right charity for you

charity - charity jar

If you watch CNN, Fox News or any other news outlet you’re probably being bombarded with messages about negative events happening around the world each and every day. Although this may be the case, there are hundreds/thousands of charities looking to make a positive difference. However, with so many great causes out there, it can feel overwhelming trying to decide which one to support. When searching for a charity to support, you need to first determine what your values are. Are you an animal lover who wants to help abused pets find loving homes? The ASPCA may be an organization that lines up with your values.

Do you love children and want to provide a healthy and supportive after-school environment for kids of all backgrounds to enjoy? The Boys and Girls Club may be one you’d want to look into. Defining your values and researching organizations that line up with them will help you narrow down your focus to organizations that you truly believe in. If you’re donating money to a cause, it’s also important to ensure that the organization is utilizing your donations effectively. There’s nothing worse than finding out that your donations were squandered by ineffective charities and that the people you wanted to help didn’t receive the funds you contributed.

The website (https://www.charitynavigator.org/) makes it easy to find reputable and efficient charities in your area.  With over 9000 rated charities and over 650,000 registered users on the website, you can rest assured that the highly rated charities on this website are great charities. Take some time this week to determine what you value the most in an organization. Come up with your top 3 values and begin searching for organizations that line up with these values. Write down a list of 2-3 organizations and commit to donating your time and/or money these organization.

Bringing it all together

After having an especially stressful day at work, Patrick knew he had to make a change in his day to day life. He started by researching community service groups and charities in the Seattle area and narrowed down his list to his top 5 choices. Over the course of the next 2 months, he attended several events from his top choices and finally decided he most associated with the “Boys and Girls Club” as his top charity and the “Rotary club” as his top community service group. Every other week, Patrick would donate his time to the “Boys and Girls Club” and he even helped coordinate an after-school event. He loves the time he spends with the kids and as a result, his stress levels have begun to decrease. Also after attending a local rotary event, he met a beautiful woman by the name of Sharon. A week later he asked her out on a date and they’ve been together for over 4 months.

Since he started donating his time and energy to causes he believes in, he’s better able to focus on his priorities, he’s in a new loving relationship and his stress levels have never been lower.  On top of that, a few months after establishing his new giving routine he was able to open his new restaurant. Life is going great for Patrick and he’s excited about what the future holds. Giving your time, energy and resources to causes that line up with your values creates a positive ripple effect in others areas of your life. By allotting a few hours per month and/or a percentage of your income to charitable causes, you’ll not only make a substantial impact in the lives of others but you’ll also grow as a person and improve your overall well-being. Make this holiday season one filled with love, compassion and giving to others. I wish you all a merry Christmas and happy new year.

P.S.

My book recommendation for this article is “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. Although this book is fiction, I thought the author did a phenomenal job depicting the struggles faced by many impoverished communities across the United States. From drug violence, police brutality, lack of opportunities and everything in between, these communities need our help to ensure that their youths have the support they need to achieve their true potential. The authors writing style is very relatable and I really connected with the main character. I highly recommend the book and I’ve provided the link to the book below:

Check out “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

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