• Why Volunteering over the Holidays Is Good for Your Health

    by Dr. Payal Bhandari
    on Dec 28th, 2016

During the holidays we often feel extra generous due to the gift giving spirit. Instead of spending a lot of time and money this holiday season on presents and parties, why not donate your time to make the holidays better for others that are less fortunate?

Volunteering is very gratifying, and we often get more out of the experience than what we give. It’s an activity the whole family can bond over, and as a bonus, volunteering is good for our health, too.

Volunteering Is Good for Your Mental Health

Volunteering has a lot of benefits for our mental health. When doing good, we feel empathy which increases our levels of oxytocin. Here are some examples of how volunteering improves our mental health:

Volunteering Is Good for Your Physical Health

Volunteering helps us to focus on our good qualities, which makes us feel positive about ourselves. When we feel positive, we tend to make positive changes in our lives, such as eating healthier, exercising more, and smoking less.  Here are a few additional physical health benefits you can get from volunteering:

A study by the Carnegie Mellon University reviewed adults over 50 who volunteered regularly and found that they were less likely to have high blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure causes illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and premature death.

Another study on college students found that students who volunteered regularly had a 26% lower risk of binge drinking.

Brain-stimulating activities, such as tutoring and reading to young people can help older people maintain their memory and thinking skills, which lowers their risk of dementia.

Volunteer Activities You Can Do over the Holidays

It’s important to choose a volunteer activity that you enjoy, and that is important to you as it will make it easier to keep with your appointments. Also be realistic about the time you and your family has available over the holidays and don’t overcommit to any activity you may not be able to finish.

Get your friends and relatives involved and try one of these volunteer activities this holiday:

Are You Volunteering This Holiday?

If you decide to volunteer this holiday, remember to do it for the right reasons: to help others, not to make yourself feel better or score bragging rights. According to a study published in the Health Psychology journal, people who volunteer regularly live longer, but only if their intentions are truly selfless and compassionate and they don’t expect anything in return.

Reach out to Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. if you need any ideas for volunteering opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area over the holidays. Together we can bring joy and smiles to another person or animal in need.

Author Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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