My Q Health | Why Volunteering Is Good for Your Health
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Why Volunteering Is Good for Your Health

Why Volunteering Is Good for Your Health

– Additional reporting by Amy Eisinger
Though the holiday season might make you feel stressed or crazy busy, it can also have another far more desirable effect: It may leave you feeling extra generous. That’s right—all that gift-giving and caroling can bring on even more good vibes.

“Being generous isn’t a finite resource,” says Alex Korb, Ph.D., neuroscientist and author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time. “The more generous you are, the more you feel like you want to be even more generous.”

And that’s where one of the best ways to give comes into play: volunteering. Helping out is a double whammy: You help others and benefit yourself in the process.

The High You Get From Helping

It’s probably no surprise that lending a hand makes you feel good—after all, even a simple smile can be contagious. “Humans feel best when we feel useful,” says Emily Fletcher, founder of Ziva Meditation and gratitude expert. “[With volunteering], the reward is in the act itself—it allows people to feel more present.”

And while you’ve likely read about the benefits of mindfulness, studies suggest volunteering—especially when it’s a habit—provides long-lasting benefits.  It can make you healthier and even add years to your life.

“Volunteering helps you focus on your positive qualities,” Korb says. “Because you’re reflecting yourself as being a good person, that can have a self-affirming effect.” That type of self-affirmation can domino into other positive changes, Korb says, like eating healthier or smoking less.

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