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It’s an oft-quoted statement that doing good feels good, but now it’s backed up by science. Studies now suggest donating to charity, whether through items or time, provides a slew of benefits to the giver. While the sense of satisfaction varies, the mental effects of charity are both real and significant. Read more about them below.

Brain Strength

A 2009 study found that seniors who volunteered regularly had increased brain function, improving their thinking ability and quality of life. Such improvement could help stave off deteriorating diseases and keep people’s brains working better longer. Older individuals are more prone to mental problems, which makes these results all the more noteworthy.

Less Depression

Social interaction and forming strong bonds with others is key to keeping depression at bay, and charity donation is an accessible way of doing it. What’s more is that giving to others lowers stress and can weaken depression symptoms.

Happier Hormones

Research suggests the act of giving stimulates several hormones’ secretions, waking up the parts of the brain that react to happiness and senses of trust. The hormones include dopamine, which induces better moods; serotonin, which stabilizes healthy body functions; and oxytocin, which boosts connections with others. These hormones also affect bodily functions like sleeping and immune health, so donation has the potential to strengthen the body as it comforts the mind.

Longevity

Never minding the toll stress and depression can take on the body, volunteering and donation may actually extend one’s life. This review from 2013, which includes multiple surveys, conclude that those who donated and volunteered showed fewer signs of mortality against peers who didn’t. While the results favored long-term charity work, as opposed to donating spare change sparsely, participants nonetheless felt better about their lives and could potentially look forward to more of it.

Charity donation can take a lot of time and effort, but the boons can’t be ignored. Giving provides the giver with rewards just as it does the recipient, in the form of a stronger mind and happier heart. There are plenty of opportunities out there for those looking to donate, and with plenty of studies backing up the positive effects, it’s never a bad time to start.