2 Tips to combat fear and anxiety

  1. Be generous with your money.
  2. Be generous with your time.

It sounds so simple. And it is really. Generosity is good for our souls. It’s good for our mental and physical health.  But before sharing about the positive effects of generosity, lets clear up a few things.

Do you ever feel guilty when you buy something really nice for yourself? We want to encourage you to buy nice things for yourself (once your debt is paid off, of course) If you are suffering from guilt over purchasing yourself a nice gift, ask yourself, “Am I giving generously to others?” If your answer is “yes,” then you can take a deep breath and remember that loving yourself well is also important. The way you love yourself is a reflection of the way you love others. If you don’t first love yourself, how can you authentically love someone else? A wise woman named Vikki Fraker always says, “If you are not in possession of an orange, no matter how desperately you want to give someone an orange, you just can’t.” So, you must give yourself that love and kindness so that you have it within you to give it away and overflow onto others.

On the flip side of this, you can’t only look out for your own happiness if you want to live a life of joy. Joy comes from serving others and being generous with both your time and money.  What percentage of your income are you giving away? Giving financially starts with a healthy view of money and self. How much of your time are you giving towards acts of kindness, or volunteering?

Be generous with your money through targeted financial support

Not only has it been proven that giving can decrease stress, but more specifically, it is targeted financial support that has been proven to lower both stress and anxiety. According to an article in Medical News Today, “How does generosity benefit health?,” “Humans thrive off social connections and benefit when they act in the service of others’ well-being.” Studying the brain, they discovered a direct correlation to targeted giving that impacts health. The study shows how the brain creates a neural pathway between the septal area and amygdala when support-giving to specific people we know who are in need. Inagaki and Ross concluded: “Giving targeted support to an identifiable individual in need is uniquely associated with reduced amygdala activity thereby may lead to health.” Neuroscientist Jorge Moll found that when people give time, or money to charities, it activates regions of the brain connected to pleasure and trust, which creates that “warm fuzzy” feeling.

Use your unique ability to serve others  

According to Stephen Covey in his book titled, The 8th Habit, your unique voice is where your talents and passions intersect with a need in the world. It is your unique personal significance. This need in the world is how you serve others. First, you must determine your strengths and giftings. If you are unsure of these, ask someone who is close to you to tell you some of these qualities you possess. There are also plenty of tests out there that can help you as well including, Stregthsfinder and other personality assessments such as DISC, Myers Briggs and Enneagram. (www.rheti.com) Then, you must discover your “Why.” Your why is your passions. These are the things that you love and your heart is connected to. Some of you might be passionate about animals, children, art, or other areas of interest. Lastly, determine how your strengths and passions can help meet a need in the world.

An article called, “Helping Others Can Increase Happiness and Reduce Stress,” discusses that even though it might seem like giving more of your time could add to your busy and stressful life, the opposite is true. The article states, “A 2015 study published in the Clinical Psychology Science journal found that helping others can relieve stress.” (77 adults between the ages of 18-44 participated in the study). The study showed a direct correlation to performing acts of kindness and the level of stress the participant felt. Another article called “Good giving: Why helping others is good for your heart and your health,” shared, “that giving is just as important to maintaining health as avoiding tobacco and obesity.” In the book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen G. Post wrote, “The startling findings from our many studies demonstrate that if you engage in helping activities as a teen, you will still be reaping the benefits 60 or 70 years later. Generous behavior is closely associated with reduced risk of illness and mortality and lower rates of depression.” Carnegie Melon conducted a study on the positive effects of volunteering time and the results of the study showed that adults over the age of 50 that volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure.

Giving both time and money

An article called, “Want to Be Happy? Stop Being So Cheap!” by Jordan Michael Smith is a powerful testament to why we should give more of our time and money. Smith shares that Americans who describe themselves as “very happy” volunteer an average of 5.8 hours per month. Those who are “unhappy, just .6 hours per month. This was discovered in the findings from The Paradox of Generosity, a book by sociologists Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson in which they present the findings of the Science of Generosity Initiative at Notre Dame. Tim Goodwin talked about this initiative in his book, Exponential Wealth. The study was conducted by surveying 2,000 individuals over a five-year period. The study also tracked the spending habits of 40 families from different races and social classes across 12 different states. They were able to interview them and really get a sense of their lifestyle. This study was the most comprehensive study tracking Americans spending and giving habits. The results were astounding!  Findings showed that Americans who donated more than 10 percent of their income were less likely to experience depression then those who did not give more than 10 percent. The study also revealed that individuals who give emotional support to others as well as hospitality were way more likely to be in excellent health then those who did not give of their time. Who wouldn’t want to be both happier and healthier? It seems like it is a no brainer to make sure you are giving more than 10 percent of your income away and to give at least 5.8 or more hours a month to volunteering or being emotionally available to those in need.

The bottom line is no matter your age or stage in life, you can find both time and resources to be generous. Find a way to use your unique voice in a way that is fulfilling for you and you will not only be impacting others, but you will reap the benefits of reduced stress and anxiety and have a healthier and more joy filled life.