For most families, the holidays are a magical time of year to spend with those who matter to us most. It can also be a really stressful time of year for many. Not only mentally - with all the planning, social engagements, financial pressure, and the memories of lost ones - but also physiologically. It’s hard to prioritize our and our family’s health this time of year. Often, we find ourselves eating more sweets and comfort foods, moving and exercising less, and experiencing changes in our sleep routines. While I encourage all of you to prioritize you and your family’s mental and physical health this holiday season, I also want to encourage you to enjoy your time with family and friends. Finding this balance can sometimes be very tricky. One health-promoting activity to do during the holidays is the science of giving, and how it too can boost our health (as well as teaching our kids about the importance of giving and gratitude).
Here are a few ways giving can help promote health and wellbeing this holiday season:
Giving to others makes us happier! A study by Harvard Business School found that participants who gave money to others experienced more changes in their happiness levels than those who spent that money on themselves. The reason for this is because giving activates areas of the brain responsible for the production of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. All three of these hormones will cause a boost in mood, and therefore - happiness!
Giving also has an effect on our relationships. Actually, experiential gifts have been found to produce greater relationship improvements compared to material gifts (aka stuff). It was also found that you don’t even need to participate in the experience gift for your relationship with that person to grow in a positive way.
Giving and practicing generosity has been found to also help lower blood pressure, improve self-esteem, lessen depression, lower stress levels, and lengthen life span (actually!!) and like stated above, help to create more abundant happiness and satisfaction.
Giving also doesn’t have to be monetary. Other great ways to give this holiday season could include helping neighbors with work around their house or yard, spending time with others, playing games, cooking meals, etc.
Lastly, not only does being generous help our overall health and wellbeing; but more importantly, it helps those around us feel a little more loved this holiday season. And as a reminder, our children are always watching us… there is not a better time than the holidays to teach our kiddos the importance of giving, gratitude and empathy!
“You never know how far reaching something we may say, think, or do will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.”
-BJ Palmer, Developer of Chiropractic