By Anna Marie Hrivnak, M.Ed.
During the holiday season we find ourselves trying to find the perfect gift. Research proves giving the gift of ‘our time’ to another, however, can in fact be mutually beneficial. The idea of ‘giving our time’ might seem impossible. Feelings of time-constraint or “time famine” in our daily lives is quite prevalent. However, a recent paper published in Psychological Sciencereported that taking the time to help others can increase feelings of “time affluence” and can actually alleviate our perceived “time famine.” Taking the time to do something for someone else seems to expand the future for the person giving of their time.
Likewise, a study in the journal BMC Public Health documented that there were impressive beneficial effects of volunteering on a person’s physical, mental and overall health. In a study conducted at the University of Buffalo, it was found that people who give of their time to others were able to “buffer” many of the negative effects of everyday stress. The study also looked into the existing research in regards to social isolation and stress with morbidity and concluded that these effects are, in fact, counteracted when we give time in helping others.
In a study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology researchers looked into the effects that giving of our time had on our physiology and on our longevity. The study’s findings showed that those who gave of their time had lower blood pressure and arterial pressure. It also found that individuals who gave of their time reported a greater sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy. These individuals were also less likely to be depressed. These were all positive signs for a healthy heart and cardiovascular health.
Giving of our time to others does indeed benefit the giver and receiver. The ‘giver of time’ will experience reduced stress, help combat depression, lower their blood pressure and have an overall longer life expectancy. So, this holiday season consider giving one of the most precious of gifts–your time.