How Giving Back Affects Our Mental Well-being

Since I was a kid, my mother stressed the importance of giving to those less fortunate than I was. When I got to college, I was heavily active on my campus by joining student organizations and I realized how much many colleges stress the importance of community service as a requirement in order to stay officially active. Usually when something becomes a requirement we tend to focus on doing it just because we have to. We forget the positive affects that giving back to the community can have on our own health and how much it affects those around us as well.

First, giving back makes us feel happy. Knowing that we are doing a good deed for someone or something else is an esteem booster. It evokes feelings of gratitude from those who are being helped and it allows for ones humanitarian values to be met. It allows us to find stability in life. We begin to see that life is about balance and a series of give and take. I had the opportunity to attend the Black Girls Rock taping at NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey and I realized that even though the honorees were celebrities with millions of dollars in assets, that wasn’t why they were being honored. In the midst of their extravagant and extremely comfortable lifestyles, they found time to use their status to give back. They each adopted a philanthropy and used their money and they humanitarian values to create change or opportunities to make change in several underdeveloped communities nationally and internationally. In creating this type of balanced life it is important to know that as much as we take from others, we also need to equally give to others.

Performing acts of service is contagious. The more you do it, the more you’re going to want to keep doing it and pretty soon those around you are going to also want to keep doing it as well. It promotes cooperation and helps to establish social connections. I had to opportunity to participate in New Jersey Cares Day for the second time since 2011. The first time, my student organization at the time established a group to participate in a beautification project at an elementary school in Newark, New Jersey. This year however, I registered and created a public team and broadcast my team information via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and I was happy to see people signing up some of whom I didn’t even know. We had something in common and that was the fact that we wanted to do a service in our community.

Even after a sweaty day of building a portion of a house, or painting a school mural or serving a three course meal to the homeless you can’t help but walk away feeling those tingly endorphins coursing through your body. When we feel good, it releases stress and other things that affect our mental well-being not to mention that getting down and dirty to serve also helps keep us in shape physically.

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