Dec 3, 2021 in Life Coaching

Giving: It's Not Just for Christmas Anymore

'Tis the season to be giving, and giving we do.

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'Tis the season to be giving, and giving we do. A majority of charitable organizations receive the majority of all their donations in the last quarter for the entire year. The street corners are filled with Santas, ringing bells and calling you to depart with the few dollars you have in your wallet. Representatives are calling or emailing you to give what you can to help. It can be overwhelming at times, but this time of year is when we find ourselves in the giving spirit. 

The problem is people that who need the care that these organizations provide need it year-round. Ever notice why you are more cheerful this time of year? Because it's Christmas? What does Christmas represent? Giving! So, to help you get into and continue the Christmas Spirit, here are some reasons and ways you can give without losing your shirt.

First, the psychological benefits of giving are numerous and I will touch on a few, such as empathy, bonding, and trust. We are social creatures, and as such, we like approval from others, and nothing says approval more than when you give someone a reason to smile. When they smile at you, you smile back and it starts an epidemic of a good kind. You are content when you know what you did make a difference to others. That feeling of joy comes from providing something someone needed. You do that because you know or recognize what life is like not having help. That is called empathy, which is having an understanding of what someone else is going through, and knowing you can help make a difference. 

Giving increases your bond with the person you are giving to. It draws you in, allowing you to get closer when you have helped with a need. You begin to create a deeper relationship. You demonstrated care and compassion and they responded in the same way back to you. That builds trust and love. And that gift, whether it's tangible such as a coffee cup given to you that says You're The Best, or a memory of something, becomes a representation of that love. We hold onto these things, no matter how great or small as a reminder of that. Think of when you received a gift from a close friend. It was most likely personal because that person knew you well and wanted to bring you joy. How did that gift and time together impact your relationship?

The physical benefits of giving are also numerous. Giving helps reduce blood pressure. Giving also reduces inflammation in your body. When you give, you release three important neurochemical drivers in your brain. You release dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, and when released, they crank up the Joy and Happiness factor on all levels. 

Oxytocin has the power to regulate our emotional responses and pro-social behaviors, including trust, empathy, gazing, positive memories, processing of bonding cues, and positive communication. Thanks to oxytocin, we get a toasty, tranquil feeling whenever we’re with the people we care about. And the more we engage in these feel-good behaviors, the more oxytocin we get. This helps to release feel-good emotions which helps to reduce and regulate blood pressure and helps to reduce inflammation in your body as well. 

Serotonin is the key hormone that helps us sleep, stabilizes our mood, creates feelings of well-being and happiness. This hormone impacts your entire body. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin also helps with eating and digestion.

Dopamine is what is released when we experience pleasure and provides a myriad of health benefits, such as regulating your heart rate, sleep, pain, and digestion too.

In a nutshell, giving puts your entire body in a state of bliss. 

But giving does not always mean writing big checks to organizations. That’s easy.  While giving to large organizations is helpful and appreciated, the greatest but the hardest thing to give is yourself, in the way of time, to someone you know who is in need or could use a hand.

So, if giving releases all of these good feelings and positive health benefits, why don’t we give all year round?

When we think of giving, we think about money. And of course, donate to the organizations and churches you are passionate about. But as I said earlier, the greatest gift you can give is not your money, but your time and attention. The more you give, the more you want to give. Start with your local church. Volunteer once a week. If you're wondering how, or where, call. Or ask at church. It's easy.

I challenge you to make 2022 the Giving Year. Not just at Christmas or other holidays, but all through the year. Help someone carry their groceries. 

Volunteer to be a mentor to children. Open the door for someone behind you. It doesn’t matter how big or small the gesture is. When we get into the habit of giving, we become addicted to it. Then we become connected. When we are connected, we build a bond and trust. When that happens, we become united. And when we are united, under God, we are unstoppable.

Be unstoppable.

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