Giving Compass’ Take:
• Healthline reports on research that shows the various mental health benefits to helping others.
• This might be good motivation to map out your giving time plan for the next year. Which volunteering opportunities might align best with your values?
During a recent study, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh gave 45 volunteers an option: They could complete a task that benefited themselves, a charity, or a particular friend in need.
Afterwards, a brain scan showed a noticeable — and fascinating — difference based on their choice.
Not only did the participants who chose to help a particular person display increased activity in two “reward centers” of their brain, but they had decreased activity in three other regions that help inform the body’s physical response to stress through blood pressure and inflammation.
A second study from the University of Pittsburgh, this time utilizing nearly 400 volunteers who were asked to self-report their “giving” habits, showed similar results.
“Humans are born especially vulnerable and dependent on others,” explained Tristen Inagaki, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh who led both studies. “As a result, we require a prolonged period of intense caregiving following birth in order to survive.”
That instinctive desire to help others may depend on those specific areas of the brain. They guarantee more supportive behavior.
Read the full article about how helping people affects your brain by Stephanie Booth at Healthline.
Volunteering is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
Are you ready to give?
If you are interested in Volunteering, please see these relevant Issue Funds, Charitable Organizations or Projects where you can get involved.