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Improve Your Health This Holiday Season Through Giving

Folded hands

As we move through autumn into winter, and into the holiday season, why is it there always seems to be more to do? More to worry about? More packed into our schedules? And of course, with the current pandemic, there are more germs to fight off! Wear a mask. Social distance. Get your flu shot. Wash your hands. Take your vitamin C. Get enough rest. And all of those other words of wisdom we've heard to help keep us healthy. Yet there is something else many of us do during the winter months and holiday season that might be improving our health and we don't even know it!

That's the power of giving...yes giving! Of ourselves, our money, our time, our resources, our love. Studies have shown that the act of giving can activate the area of the brain associated with positive feelings, lifting your spirits and making you feel better the more you give. [The Benefits of Altruism for Stress Management March 2018]. Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression. A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health-including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan [Volunteering may be good for body and mind by Stephanie Wilson Harvard Health Blog June 2013].

With the holiday season quickly upon us, another thing we will be faced with will be more of the requests of our generosity, our money, our time, our resources. Food drives at Thanksgiving time. Salvation Army Kettle Bell ringers. Toy Drives and Christmas Mother programs helping kids and families. There are causes everywhere to donate to...and maybe even more so this year, this odd year of 2020. So how do you decide who or what to give to? The answer is simple: Whatever you want to! Whether it's your time or your money or some other resource, it's whatever feels best to you!!

And maybe it is YOU that needs to be the focus of your giving! How's that old saying goes, "Charity starts at home." Don't feel guilty for taking some time to take care of you, to allow yourself some time for relaxation, to intentionally de-stress during the midst of a busy week. Self-care truly is an effective way to reduce stress, improve well-being, and help you find joy in a challenging situation. And when you feel good, everyone around you will benefit from that positive energy. [10 Stress Relief Tips to get You Through Holidays].

So as Psychology Today has reported on several times in recent years, Giving Is Good for You [November 2017] and The Greatest Gift You Can Give: Yourself [December 2012], giving...whether to others OR to ourselves...has multiple health benefits that don't require a trip to the doctor, special medicine, or even hand sanitizer!

Malinda Tiffany, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a Clinical Associate with Family Guidance Centers in our Powhatan office. She can be reached at 804-743-0960 or can be emailed at

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