Most people would agree that giving to others is a good thing. On top of this, it can also improve your mental wellbeing.
Small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones - such as volunteering in your local community - can give you a sense of purpose. It can make you feel happier and more satisfied with life.
Sometimes, we think of wellbeing in terms of what we have: our income, our home or car, or our job. But evidence shows that what we do and the way we think have the biggest impact on mental wellbeing.
Positive mental wellbeing means feeling good - about yourself and the world around you - and being able to get on with life in the way you want.
Helping and supporting other people, and working with others towards a shared goal, is good for our mental wellbeing.
How giving helps your mental wellbeing
Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness - small and large - are associated with positive mental wellbeing.
Giving to others and co-operating with them can stimulate the reward areas in the brain, creating positive feelings.
Helping and working with others can also give us a sense of purpose and feelings of self-worth.
Giving our time to others in a constructive way helps us strengthen our relationships and build new ones. Relationships with others also help mental wellbeing.
How you can give more
Giving can take lots of different forms, from small everyday acts to larger commitments.
Today, you could:
- Say thank you to someone, for something they've done for you.
- Phone a relative or friend who needs support or company.
- Ask a colleague how they are and really listen to the answer.
- Offer to lend a hand if you see a stranger struggling with bags or a pushchair.
This week, you could:
- Arrange a day out for you and a friend or relative.
- Offer to help a relative with DIY or a colleague with a work project.
- Sign up to a mentoring project, in which you give time and support to someone who will benefit from it.
- Volunteer in your local community, such as helping out at a local school, hospital or care home. Find out how to volunteer.
More steps for wellbeing
Giving is one of five evidence-based steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing.
Learn more about the other four:
- Connecting for mental wellbeing
- Getting active for mental wellbeing
- Learning for mental wellbeing
- Mindfulness for mental wellbeing
Article provided by NHS Choices