Giving is Good for Your Health…..Really!

In 2005, I lived in Orlando and volunteered in fundraising and disaster response capacity with the Red Cross of Central Florida.  In late August, when Hurricane Katrina struck, residents from the Gulf Coast region inundated Orlando.   Many of them had underestimated Katrina and thought, “Let’s just go to Disney for a few days while the storm passes.”   Little did they realize that they would wind up having no home to go back to, and to make things worse, they could not access bank accounts because the storm-ravaged the electronic banking systems in that region.   They found themselves with no home, no money, no idea what to do next.   Many of them came to the Red Cross of Central Florida for help.   I spent those first three days after Katrina working almost nonstop with those displaced.    

In those initial days, the rest of the country watched in shock and felt virtually crippled by the immense despair for the Gulf Coast.  Knowing I could at least make a difference for those hundreds of families that stood before me that weekend made the despair less powerful, made the footage less crippling to watch  To this day, that experience is one of my most meaningful memories of making a difference 

Research has shown that helping others can reduce stress, increase happiness, and improve your health.   During Katrina, the time I gave and the money I raised through the generosity of local donors and businesses improved my emotional toll of watching the ongoing ramifications of that event unfold.    

Making charitable gifts can have the same impact.   The gifts do not have to be large.  Often, sharing whatever you can spare is a simple but generous way to help others and possibly lower your stress levels and improve your overall wellbeing. 

Recently, the Cleveland Clinic reported that health benefits associated with volunteering or donating to nonprofits could include: 

  • Lower blood pressure 
  • Increased self-esteem 
  • Less depression 
  • Lower stress levels 
  • Longer life 
  • Greater happiness and satisfaction 

It is all too easy to feel stressed beyond our coping abilities.  Work, money issues, family stress, and other obligations can be both overwhelming and frustrating.  I know it seems like giving other people your time and attention will only make your schedule busier, but research has shown the opposite.  Sometimes when you are feeling the most powerless, the power of giving can be the silver lining you are seeking.  

Moreover, in my experience, giving is power.   When you give your time, talent, or treasure, you are taking a stand, and you are doing something about whatever cause you are supporting.  With more than 670 funds at Community Foundation, there are many ways to make a difference.  

We would be happy to help you find the cause(s) that matter to you.