Friday, July 21, 2017

How to Improve Your Life (and the Lives of Others) With an Altruistic Hobby

How to Improve Your Life (and the Live of Others) With an Altruistic Hobby

Guest post by Maria Cannon

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by aitoff

Did you know that volunteer work and community service have some surprising health benefits? That’s right; as it turns out, your altruistic hobbies benefit more than just the community and those in need.

While altruism - or the act of selflessly giving to those in need - is often seen as an external benefit to those on the receiving end, recent scientific research is now indicating that these selfless actions might have mutual benefits for both parties - including a variety of health benefits. In fact, modern evolutionary psychologists now believe altruism is a particularly useful trait that humans evolved as a means of survival (and it’s not just humans; altruism has been observed in other members of the animal kingdom, too).

As one psychology website bluntly puts it: “Compassion, cooperation and community are key to our survival.” In addition to bringing happiness, joy and fulfillment, making a hobby out of doing charitable actions can actually improve your life in more tangible ways.

Here are just a few of the ways altruism helps you, in addition to helping those on the receiving end:

Mental Health
Whether you are feeling anxious or suffering from depression, incorporating a beloved hobby into your daily life can help reduce your stress levels and improve your mood.

Addiction Recovery
As any addict will tell you: recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is not easy. Luckily, hobbies can help make it a smoother process for you. Stress-reducing hobbies like yoga, tai chi, qi gong and meditation have been shown to be particularly effective among recovering addicts and alcoholics.

Mental Fitness
Hobbies challenge your brain by helping you to build new skills. As you gain these new skillsets, you will have feelings of accomplishment and increased confidence. In addition, particular hobbies such as yoga and tai chi have been shown to potentially reduce your chances of developing certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Self Esteem
Hobbies also provide opportunities for socializing and making new friends. As you get better at tasks you enjoy, you’ll become more confident and your self-esteem will naturally increase. Hobbying can be a great way to boost your confidence while also doing something you already love.

Think the benefits listed above are just one-time coincidences? Think again! Recent research has consistently shown that giving back to one’s own community can be as rewarding for the person doing the giving as it is for the person on the receiving end.

As you can see, there are many clear ways that altruistic hobbies can be beneficial for everyone involved. Next time you are thinking of doing a good deed, you will already know that there might be some surprising health benefits in store for you. In exchange for your kind behavior, you might actually be doing yourself some favors by possibly improving your physical, emotional and mental health. So… why not give back to your local community? After all, you’ll be helping others while also helping yourself.

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