The last few months have given people no shortage of opportunities to give back with natural disasters affecting people all over the globe. Ordinary people have stepped up in great ways, donating their time, money and talents toward helping those less fortunate.
And according to science, the reward for that isn’t just mental. Studies have shown that when we are charitable on a regular basis, it can lead to positive physiological changes like a decrease in blood pressure or lower mortality rates.
“When we engage in acts of generosity, those experiences of positive emotion may be more enduring and outlast the specific episode in which we are engaged,” Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and researcher on the brain’s reaction to positive emotions, told The New York Times.
Volunteering also helps people find a better sense of purpose, according to research. In one such study with older people, those who volunteered with children were less likely to experience memory less and had better physical mobility as time went on.
“Research suggests that these community social connections are as important for resilience to disaster is as physical material like disaster kits or medical supplies,” Ichiro Kawachi, a professor of social epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health, told The Times. “[Volunteerism] is good for the health of people who receive social support, but also good for the health of people who offer their help.”