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Gifts

December 16, 2022

To Receive, We First Must Give

The AFT provides staff with monthly health and wellness tips, and now they are sharing them with the Share My Lesson community too! The topic for December is To Receive, We First Must Give. Everybody loves receiving gifts, but there are also people who enjoy giving gifts just as much, or more. Whether it's a gift for a family member or friend, donating to your favorite charity, volunteering your time at your local food bank or animal shelter (just to name a few), it's a nice way to let someone know just how much you care about them. Generosity not only lifts your spirit, your mind and your relationships, it's good for your health and happiness.

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Welcome to December: the holidays are staring right at you. Have you panicked about shopping yet? Don’t fret! This isn’t a time for stress and panic. This is the time of gathering and giving and receiving from others. This is when we all come together and feast, take time off work, and are told to give back. And if your in-laws don’t graciously accept the fruit cake you labored over, then maybe they can be more appreciative of your efforts. You don’t have to change. What’s beautiful about giving is that it’s not a one-sided transaction. We also receive something back in the form of health benefits. Genuinely helping or giving to someone produces a warm effect on ourselves, activating regions in the brain associated with pleasure, connection with other people, and trust [1]. There is evidence that when we give or help another, our brain releases dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin that produces a "feel good" feeling [2].

charity watchdog

The act of giving may provide us with many physiological benefits, including: [3]

  • Lower levels of stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol levels and inflammation, meaning a likely reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Greater life satisfaction
  • Longer life expectancy

Being on the receiving end of a genuine act of kindness produces greater comfort and less stress,[2] perhaps even prompting the same neurochemical response as in the giver’s brain. If so, that would encourage us to give more, and so begs the term "giving is contagious."

There are many ways you can help or give, financially or not. You could:

  • Buy the person behind you in line their coffee or meal
  • Donate to a charity of choice
  • Go volunteer at an animal shelter, retirement home, or soup kitchen
  • Give your old things to charity thrift stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army
  • Give someone a compliment
  • Help someone pick something up or get something done.

There are many ways to give; it could be as simple as an impulse decision to help another while going about your business. They’ll be thankful you took the time to help genuinely. Who knows, they may even pass it on and do something nice for someone else, who then does something nice for someone else, who does something nice for you.

Sources:

  1. Cleveland Clinic (2020). Why Giving is Good for your Health. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/
  2. Baltazzi, Maria (2019). Why Science Says Helping Others makes us Happier. Thrive Global. https://thriveglobal.com/stories/why-science-says-helping-others-makes-…
  3. DeSimone, Danielle (2021). The Health Benefits of Giving Back. USO. https://www.uso.org/stories/2353-health-benefits-of-giving-back

Let's Get Baking!

Did you know that cooking and baking can be considered a mindful activity, and thus good for your mental health? That's why, every month, we will be recommending a healthy recipe for you to use. The recipe for the month of December is ​Gingerbread Banana Bread from Chocolate Covered Katie, The Healthy Dessert Blog. ​A perfect recipe for the season!​

Join the Health & Wellness Community

We are bringing fitness instructors, social-emotional and mental health leaders, and nutritionists together so we can collectively “workout” and de-stress our bodies and our minds. 

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