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Why giving makes us feel great

When it comes to improving your wellbeing, eating right, sleeping enough and being active all make a big difference.  But, did you know that doing things that help others can be good for your health too? 

Research shows that giving to others, be it your time, your support or a gift, not only can make the recipient happy, but can also make you – the person giving – feel wonderful too. In fact, giving can make the pleasure and reward centers in your brain light up as though you were the one receiving a gift! 

That’s why this month our challenges focus on helping and supporting others, either in your workplace or your community, by sharing your time, skills or resources with someone else.  

YOUR CHALLENGE: Choose at least one idea from the list below (or an idea you come up with yourself) to do for someone else and notice how you feel.  

Consider giving to friends, family or colleagues who may be struggling and need a little extra help. Maybe you want to give to someone who you’ve noticed is always looking out for people around them, but might be neglecting themselves. Or, you might want to give to someone you hardly know and would like to get to know better. You might consider giving to the homeless or a charity. There are heaps of ways you can give.  

This challenge also presents an opportunity for you to ask for help or support if you need it. If you are struggling and need a hand or someone to talk to, this is a great time to ask.  

Ways you can give back:

Giving your time

  • Babysitting  
  • Car washing  
  • Lawn mowing  
  • Washing windows  
  • Renovation support  
  • Gardening 
  • Dog walking  

Volunteer in your community 

  • Volunteer at your local senior living community center 
  • Clean up a local beach 
  • Plant a tree, or join a group replanting bush/forest 
  • Help clean up the local rivers 
  • Join a community garden 
  • Organise a community clean-up 
  • Become a big brother or big sister in a community-based mentorship programme  
  • Share your pet with others 
  • Serve meals at a food bank. 

Financial gifts 

  • Give to charity 
  • Gift a Christmas hamper for families in need 
  • Donate non-perishable food to the homeless 
  • Sponsor a youth sports team 
  • Donate your workwear  
  • Donate extra toiletries to a shelter. 

Gift your creative skills 

  • Knitting 
  • Painting  
  • Using your special skills to help others 
  • Handmade Christmas ornaments. 

Passing on your knowledge 

  • Teach someone how to speak your language
  • Do you have trade skills?  
  • Tutor a student 
  • Sewing skills 
  • Teach a kid how to play chess or card games.  

Sharing food 

  • Make someone lasagna and drop it off at their house 
  • Whip up batches of bliss balls to share
  • Hand-deliver goodies to your neighbours 
  • Drop off meals to elderly or sick people or new parents  
  • Know someone who’s struggling financially? Do a shop for them 
  • Pay for the person behind you in the grocery queue 
  • Offer food from your garden.

Christmas time

Looking for a fun home or office activity over the Christmas period? Want to teach your young family to learn the importance of giving? Then try our Reverse Advent Calendar

Article sources and references

  • Doré, B. P., Morris, R. R., Burr, D. A., Picard, R. W., & Ochsner, K. N. (2017). Helping others regulate emotion predicts increased regulation of one’s own emotions and decreased symptoms of depression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43(5), 729-739.
  • Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319(5870), 1687-1688.
  • Ingram, R. E. (1990). Self-focused attention in clinical disorders: Review and a conceptual model. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 156-176.

Date modified: 2 November 2021
First published: Nov 2021


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