You may recognise the expression “it’s better to give than receive”, but did you know this is backed up by research?
Cast your mind back to the last time you did something nice for somebody else. Do you remember how it felt when you saw their surprise, followed by a smile on their face? It made you feel pretty good, didn’t it?
There’s actually a scientific explanation for the buoyant sensation that arises when we help another person out.
To begin understanding this, we must travel back to the time of our ancient ancestors. We are hardwired for connection and offering someone assistance in the days when humans lived on the savanna may have aided one’s own survival. If you offered a helping hand to someone in need, the hope was that maybe they’d help you out when you needed it most in the future.
While assisting a friend might not confer the same survival benefits as it did in the distant past, studies show that helping others could contribute to a longer lifespan in other ways. Supporting others can reduce our own stress levels (leading to a lower risk of disease) and decrease loneliness, which can affect both physical and mental health.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, 1000s of people have become volunteers, either on a very local level, helping out neighbours through lockdown or through the government schemes which have been a valuable lifeline for many.
Volunteering on a regular basis also connects you to others and can increase your self-confidence in the process. By measuring brain activity in volunteers, researchers have even discovered that supporting others gives us great pleasure on a chemical level. Ergo, the more we give, the happier we feel!
If a regular volunteering commitment is beyond you right now, try a small gesture. Smiling at a stranger, checking on a neighbour or leaving seeds out for the birds confers the same feel-good benefits.
Acts of kindness may also encourage others to repeat the good deeds they’ve experienced themselves – contributing to a more positive community!
So help others because you care and reap rewards that enrich your own sense of self in the process. It’s a win-win situation. So what are you waiting for?
Why helping others is healthy is one of the fascinating articles in the 2022 Dairy Diary and features 12 simple ways to help your family and community.
I look after communications and marketing at Dairy Diary. I’m a busy mum and love home baking and cooking for my family. In my spare time I enjoy visiting the theatre, eating out with friends and exploring the great outdoors!