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Giving is Good for Your Health


The holidays are the season for giving and during times of economic downturn, you may have to dig a bit deeper into your pockets. However, you can still end up better off. In addition to the tax breaks year-end giving can bring, as it turns out, giving is also good for your health.

"Several studies over the years have found links between altruistic behavior and improved physical and psychological health," says Dr. Ann Vincent, an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic who researches the mind-body connection. "In general, I think altruism makes people feel better about themselves, which often translates into improved physical health. Other benefits that have been attributed to positive emotions include: enhanced creativity and ability to cope with stress and broadened cognition. In essence, thinking positively about ourselves is good for our physical and mental health."

But the benefits of giving, whether in the form of volunteerism or making a donation, aren't just a one-time deal. The more you give, the better you may feel, and that means finding ways to give back throughout the year. Generosity is also a wonderful survival skill to help you get through difficult times in your life.

"Recent studies have examined individuals who have survived trauma, natural disasters and being prisoners of war," says Dr. Edward T. Creagan, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic. According to Creagan, people who seem to thrive in adversity have many characteristics in common, but especially a few:

* A sense of connectedness. The recognition that family and community are crucial to survival.

* A sense of altruism, somehow sharing of themselves to make the lives of others a little bit better.

* An optimistic attitude and sense of humor.

If you have trouble motivating yourself to give time, money or goods, focus on how giving back can benefit you. "There is a 'helper's high' that people sometimes say they feel in connection with altruism/philanthropy," says Vincent. "But that initial euphoria is also sometimes followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being."

Philanthropy can also have positive effects that help people maintain or improve their physical and mental health. It often creates broader social networks, which can help people cope with stress and anxiety, and it can provide a sense of purpose and empowerment.

The emotional and physical benefits of philanthropy may be even more significant right now. Nonprofit organizations everywhere are increasingly looking for charitable individuals to partner with them in their goals for the future. Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit organization, is one of the world's premier medical treatment and research facilities and is currently conducting a campaign to transform patient care, research and education. The gifts they receive now are an investment in future generations of those needing medical care and those studying medicine.

For more information on how giving can make a life-changing impact, visit www.mayoclinic.org/campaign.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, MomShare, Newsletter,

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New FeatureRelated Articles: Gifts That Give Back, Family Volunteering During the 'Me-Centered' Holidays,

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