Forget about all the sweet deals you scored on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Today's the day to put your shopping exploits aside and embrace something a little more warm and fuzzy: generosity.
It's officially #GivingTuesday, a global day reserved for people to get out and do something nice for others. While some towns might have a specific campaign planned, you can get in on the action yourself just by donating to charity or volunteering at your local shelter. No act of kindness is too small.
It doesn't hurt either that giving to others can be a big boost for your health. Read on for four awesome perks of being more generous:
It may lower blood pressure
Helping out friends and family could be one way to boost your cardiovascular health this holiday season. A 2006 study in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found that participants who gave social support to people within their network had lower overall blood pressure and arterial pressure than those who didn't. Not to mention those in the study who were more likely to give to others also reported they received greater social support in return. Why not bring a homemade meal to a friend who's caring for someone else this holiday season? Not only will you feel good on the inside, but your friend might just be inclined to return the favor.
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It can help reduce stress
Hoarding money like Scrooge may be good for your wallet, but it's not so great for your health. A recent study from Queensland University of Technology published in PLOS One found that stingy behavior increases stress. Researchers asked 156 volunteers to play a bargaining game and decide how to divide a sum of money. Using heart rate monitors, they found players who made low offers (below 40% of the total) experienced increased heart rate and stress levels compared to those who made high offers. More proof to consider giving away some money to those less fortunate over the holidays: A study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that people who decided not to donate money to their partner in a bargaining game to felt more shame and had higher levels of stress hormone cortisol afterwards.
It could help you live longer
Lending a hand for small tasks may end up boosting your longevity. In a 2013 study of 846 people published in the American Journal of Public Health, people who helped others by running errands or doing chores seemed to be protected from the negative impact of stress. While stressful events were not linked to a higher risk of death for those do-gooders, people who didn't help others did have a 30% higher risk of dying during the study if they reported having a stressful life event. If a member of your family always cooks the holiday dinner, it might not be a bad idea to pitch in this year with the meal.
It can boost your mood
Research shows that giving money away can feel just as good as receiving it. For a 2007 study in Science, researchers used brain imaging technology on 19 women to see how certain regions were activated when they either kept $100 or gave it to a local food bank. Turns out the same pleasure-related centers in the brain that lit up in those who took the money also went off in those who donated the money—even more so when the decision was voluntary and not required by researchers. Whether you drop some change into a Salvation Army bucket or send a larger sum to your favorite charity, you can't go wrong this holiday season with a little giving.