The Giving Glow: Giving benefits you too

February 20, 2018

If you’ve ever given up a weekend to help out at a local food pantry, donated blood on your lunch break or donated to an event a friend or family member is involved in, you have likely experienced the “giving glow.”

Doing a good deed or making a difference in the lives of others just feels good. Emotionally and mentally, you get a lift from the act of giving. You might feel happy, satisfied, fulfilled and content, knowing that you were able to make a positive impact. But physiologically, there’s even more at work in your body when you donate your time, energy, voice or financial support.

A study conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found a connection between volunteering and overall health, saying study subjects were much less likely to be hospitalized over a two year period. The reason why? The study also concluded that people who volunteered were also more likely to have routine checkups and schedule preventative care, such as mammograms, flu shots, cholesterol tests and prostate exams. Volunteering, it seems, contributes to a person’s holistic health. The giving person is motivated to care for him or herself, and the healthy person is motivated to care for others – it’s a cycle of giving goodness.

And as an employee or caregiver, there’s better news – the benefits are even greater! A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows a long-term lift for younger employees who give at work – they actually report being happier and more fulfilled... three decades later. For many caregivers, the belief that the work they do makes a difference inspires happiness in their own lives, and the lives of the people around them. This ripple effect of joy touches countless people, and for everyone impacted, the health benefits are numerous.

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Researchers believe one big reason giving is so good for everyone, and especially when giving on the job, is that it reduces stress levels and the negative hormones associated with high stress situations. Working in a fast-paced, life-or-death setting such as a hospital or care facility, you are exposed to near-constant stresses. Volunteering and giving back can help alleviate the symptoms of some of this stress, giving a boost to your overall wellness.

The message is a simple one: do good, feel good. Visit iuhealth.org/iu-health-foundation page to learn more about ways to make a difference at IU Health Foundation and University hospitals and the Simon Cancer Center.

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