This time last year, could any of us have imagined that our holiday celebrations would be masked, or cancelled all together due to a global pandemic? The far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 are still unfolding, including the impact on the holidays generally and our mental, emotional, and physical health more specifically.
We each have loved ones whose health we are concerned about—not just their physical health, but their mental/emotional health as well. Isolation can be crippling. Finances are impacted; mood is impacted. And worse, at a time when we want to be joyful and celebrate life together, we’re asked to remain apart.
How can we lift moods? How can we turn a sad day into a joyful one? There are many approaches to these questions, such as turning to physical exercise or one’s religious world view. I think we’d all benefit from exploring those areas too, but for now, let’s focus on giving. Not just of money, but of time too. I propose this is something actionable (large or small) we can each do to help our community and to boost not just our own moods, but those of our loved ones as well. And why not improve physical health while we’re at it?
Benefits of Giving:
Giving has a positive physiological impact on us, proven by MRI: One study showed that when individuals were given the opportunity to make a charitable donation, the pleasure center of the brain “lit up.”
Giving decreases symptoms of depression: Several studies have shown that depressive symptoms were reduced when adults gave of their time to help others.
Giving improves your health: Other studies have shown that volunteers may have lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lower blood pressure and less belly fat as compared to non-volunteers. Amazing, isn’t it?
If we follow the above to their logical conclusions, we can see that giving someone else the opportunity to give can have the same positive impacts on their life.
If you aren’t hosting your usual Christmas or Hanukkah gathering, consider donating those funds to a local charity. Or spend the time you would have spent volunteering your time.
Undoubtedly right now, volunteering in the physical sense is not as feasible as it was this time last year. But you’d be amazed at the options you can find online for giving your time virtually. Check out Volunteer East Tennessee’s website (volunteeretn.com) or simply do a Google search for “virtual volunteer opportunities.” Write cards or create crafts for seniors at your local nursing home, transcribe historical documents for the Smithsonian, help research global human rights violations—the options are limitless!
If you’re concerned about a specific loved one, volunteer virtually with them. Or research together a charity to which you commit to donate in their honor. You’ll provide the same three bulleted benefits above to them—improving their overall well-being.
And while you’re at it, offer your child an extra $50 for Christmas if they’ll commit to researching and choosing a local charity to give a “matched” gift of $50. Take them with you to drop off the check. Or take them to the store and spend the $50 on canned goods to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank and drop them off as a family.
Sowing these positive seeds can benefit ourselves, our loved ones and our community. It’s a win all around. Let’s get creative and elicit positivity and unity in our small circles. What do we have to lose? I’d argue nothing. Happy giving!
Source: Rush Health System “The Health Benefits of Giving” https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/health-benefits-giving
The opinions expressed are those of PYAW’s Investment Team. The opinions referenced are as of the date of publication and are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass. Forward looking statements cannot be guaranteed.
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