You may be thinking you have been giving back for as long as you can remember. You give to your family members, your friends, and your job. You donate your time volunteering. You help others in times of need.
You are right! You have been giving back. But are you giving back in the right way?
You can know this by answering this question, how does giving back make you feel?
If your answer includes words like “stressed” or “tired” then you are not giving back in the right way. You are most likely giving your time up for activities in which you lack passion. You may even be participating in activities out of obligation to family and friends.
If this is the case, the first step you can take to connect giving back with good mental health is to learn how to do it right.
Choosing Projects, the Right Way
Let’s face it, there will always be a few small projects or activities that you must do just because you should do it. But saying “yes” to everything people ask you to do is not only unrealistic, it can be damaging to your physical and mental health. Saying “yes” all the time has negative effects.
Choosing a project can be done by asking yourself a few simple questions:
Am I Passionate About This Project?
If this event represents a theme you have a personal connection to or have had a passion for, go for it. If you were abused and want to participate in a domestic violence event, do it. If you love pets and want to raise funds for the local pound, that’s great!
But if you have no feelings towards and lack interest in the theme of the event, say “no.”
Benefits You Mentally? Now that you have figured out how to engage in or reject a project, let’s discuss how giving back the right way can benefit your mental health.
You Get the Helper’s High: When you give, it is rewarding. In fact, giving triggers the reward center or the mesolimbic part of the brain. It releases endorphins and tells the brain to feel good. It has sometimes been called the helper’s high.
This “high” is due to the excretion of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which are all feel good chemicals found in the brain.
It Is Contagious: When people see you give, it inspires them to give. When they give, they inspire others to give. And it continues and on. Even those who give out of guilt are known to feel good mentally after they have given to someone or something else.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind: Giving back the right way has proven physical health benefits. It lowers blood pressure and reduces stress.
Social Success: Volunteering is a fantastic way to connect with other people. You can meet new people or bond with people you already know. This type of bonding can reduce depression and anxiety.
Giving back allows you the opportunity to share your skills with others. This can boost your self-esteem and give you much-needed confidence.
In the end, giving back just feels good. It feels right.
Take time to find your passions and start giving back today. Your mental health will benefit the most.
– VantagePointRecovery.com, behavioral health and trauma healing