Holiday Cheer: How giving can help your health


I figured that today’s blog on giving may be more appropriate for me to write rather than my father (who’s unfamiliar with the shopping and present ritual). Researching this became a little complex, though so I’m going to try to begin with the general benefits before progressing to altruism. This is the season of giving, where most of the world participates in gift giving. Some of you may have been among the masses that went out for the insanity on Black Friday. I have to admit that I was among them; it is a holiday tradition that the day after Thanksgiving, I along with my sister, mom, and cousin Angelica wake up ridiculously early to push through crowds and wait in line for ‘deals’. The next couple of weeks most will be hitting the malls or the internet (as now most shopping can be done online as well) trying to bag some great presents for the near and dear to them. Is there benefits to this time-honored tradition, though? I have found seven basic benefits from giving:

  1. Builds relationships (reinforces appreciation and acknowledgements)
  2. Deepens relationships (express more of who we are)
  3. Express Feelings (gratitude, appreciations, and thanks)
  4. Creates memories (symbol love)
  5. Creates predictability (ritual giving)
  6. Destresser (focus off ourselves and create balance)
  7. Creates miracles (reinforce love in our lives when we give for the greater good)

These are all good reasons to give, but not necessarily what I look for when I give. I love the holiday season; I like that tradition of gathering with the people you love and then all the decorations (trees, wreaths, lights!) and smells (cinnamon and peppermint). Some may associates the holidays with stress; because ‘oh man, I have to buy for this person’ and they have to rack their brains for present ideas. I like to think up presents that are special, that fit the person that I’m buying for, so I can see their face when they open what I’ve put so much thought and love (not necessarily money) into. My favorite part of Christmas morning is watching people open their presents (I’m always trying shove presents in people’s faces to open, rather than actually opening my own). I think that this is a key to present giving: giving without expecting anything in return. Yes I know that I’m getting a present from my family and friends, but that doesn’t matter, even if they didn’t I would still get them one (because that’s what I enjoy). Giving and receiving are the same thing: giving more and getting more is the law of attraction in action. By giving I receive the positive effects. Giving provides positive feelings, anything that elevates ones’ spirits will have beneficial effects on their health (besides making you a happier person, who’s pleasant to be around). For instance, these positive feelings can strengthen and enhance the immune system. They can also release endorphins (you know what I’m talking about, those feel good neurotransmitters that the brain releases that provides a natural ‘high’ effects). A Harvard study has shown that the giving is so powerful at boosting the immune system, that it can be experienced just by watching someone else in the act of giving (Wow, how cool is that!). Now I’m going to transfer more into the altruist aspect of giving. Some may be thinking of what they’re going to give others, but there are a lot less fortunate people out there (worldwide) who don’t have some of the luxuries that we have (even though we’re in a recession and may have less than we once did, most still are better off than those who are homeless or impoverished). Altruism doesn’t have to be giving money, but just volunteering and giving time, or giving up something that you no longer use, but someone else find use for. Studies have shown that teens that volunteer are healthier than those who didn’t and generous actions are associated with less mortality and depression. Think about it, just volunteering at a soup kitchen; how much better do you feel walking away knowing you’ve helped others (and how fortunate you truly are). Think about those people who less off (or have your kids do some volunteer work, so they won’t be so whiny about getting there IPod’s or Playstations, or whatever electrical gadget they think they need). Nice gifts are important and sometimes we’re deserving, but just consider what do I really need? I hate it when people ask me ‘what do you want for Christmas’ (really do people not know me at all-sorry tangent). But really this prompts me to think, what do I truly want? When I really think about it there is nothing that I really need, sure there are things that I may want, but I don’t really want them to get them for me. I just want the holiday experience and tradition. What to do then? I’ll admit that one year I had my grandma donate my Christmas money to charity, and although my cousin Trevor teased me about trying to make them look bad, I didn’t do it to make myself look better. I felt good because of that feeling of self-sacrifice, like I was able to make a little bit of a difference, rather than self-benefiting. Just some food for thought, and a life lesson. Tis the season. . .  so give from the heart and you’ll reap the benefits as well!

This entry was posted in Body/Spiritual, Stress, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Holiday Cheer: How giving can help your health

  1. Barbie says:

    Awe…great job Brittany! This is one of my favorite blogs yet…sorry Jim 🙂 It really reminds us what is important during the holidays. Thank you!

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