Donating to charity is most obviously beneficial to the cause you’re donating to. Whether you’re looking to preserve a forest from being cut down, trying to help relieve the Rohingya Muslims, fight homelessness in your local area, or install a clean drinking water well in East Africa, there’s always someone who can benefit from your generosity, but they’re not the only ones.
Giving to charity has been clinically proven to improve mental health in more ways than one, meaning both you and the beneficiary can gain something positive from the act of giving. Here are a few of the ways giving to charity can help your mental health.
It’s thought that 73% of people have experienced stress to the degree that it affects their mental health, but it can also have a physical impact, leading to things like feeling run down and insomnia. There are multiple reasons why a person might be feeling stressed, be it due to their finances, work, or personal matters. It’s an extremely common issue that can’t always be helped, but giving to charity is one of the ways you can relieve the feeling of stress.
Stress occurs when your brain releases cortisol and adrenaline, both of which are stress hormones. When you give to charity, your brain releases endorphins which are natural stress busters and pain relievers. This is because giving to charity is a rewarding act which is a trigger for endorphins.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Depression and anxiety can have multiple causes, with brain chemicals being one. It’s widely believed that an imbalance of chemicals in the brain can contribute to depression and anxiety, with some of those chemicals being dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
Dopamine is released in response to positive rewards and is often associated with motivation. People with depression sometimes have low levels of dopamine. Giving to charity can trigger the release of dopamine, reducing feelings of depression. The same applies to the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin.
Boosts Your Self-Confidence
Research suggests that a leading cause of low self-esteem is because people get blindsided by focusing on themselves too much, constantly picking out their own flaws and prejudices. It can be hard to feel proud of yourself when you’re focusing heavily on the negatives, but there’s one thing that’s proven to make you feel better about yourself: giving to charity.
When you feel proud of yourself for helping someone in need, you’ll likely experience a boost in self-confidence. This can do wonders for your mental health and how you view yourself, again contributing to lower rates of anxiety and depression.
According to a recent survey, 33% of adults reported feeling lonely worldwide. There are lots of reasons why someone might feel lonely, with most people experiencing it fleetingly at some stage in their lives. Feelings of loneliness are higher amongst those who live alone and are unemployed, meaning older people are more susceptible to it, but they’re not the only ones who struggle with it.
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the rate of loneliness, especially amongst younger populations. Loneliness can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as feelings of hopelessness. Giving to charity – or more specifically volunteering – can put you in contact with people of all walks of life, reducing loneliness and opening up the possibility for making new friends.
Overall, giving to charity has too many benefits to not do. Even if you’re not suffering from poor mental health or low mood, everyone can gain something from giving to charity. Will you be helping a cause in need soon?