Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Jul 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Why Giving Back Helps Keep You Healthy

dany_keithMost people are satisfied with their contributions to their community, but there may be a bigger reason those that volunteer do so with such fervor. Studies indicate people that volunteer in their communities experience longer lives, better relationships with their families and a stronger sense of social connection. Veritable nutrition ingestion for the soul.

The human soul (to quote C.S. Lewis “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body”) cannot be disputed; it’s only what happens in death that becomes discussion. Nonetheless, people require balance between body and soul in order to sustain and live happy lives. The human soul craves connections with other souls. Interacting and supporting another human is nourishment for the soul.

When you donate time at your kid’s school, the local food bank, disabled veterans or working with the elderly, you are refueling your soul, which can provide you hormonal releases of oxytocin (the helper’s high) combating the feelings of depression triggered by opposing hormones epinephrine and cortisol. When we lock away our altruism, we cannot flourish. It has been proven that volunteering in some capacity can be addicting, continuing their efforts searching for that next high. Depending on where your volunteering takes you, recipients are often shown to be more hopeful, have increased self esteem and decreased anxiety overall completing the circle.

I have seen this firsthand in my interactions with the youth of Santa Cruz County through Grind Out Hunger. What started out as a challenge to make a difference has turned into a full-blown movement. Kids in general are altruistic; we have all seen a toddler help their friends up when they fall, or comfort another friend on a playground after a scrape.

As humans age, need and natural awareness of the social circle and the souls around us diminishes for some. Maybe as we age we cannot be bothered to contribute any of our valuable time. In my travels around the county seeing all levels of schools from well off to below poverty there was one main theme that resonated … kids will help kids. No matter how much they actually donated, they felt fulfilled— part of the solution, empowered, solving the problem (in this case childhood hunger) placed in front of them.

In many ways, when you give of yourself to someone that is less fortunate, you actually are getting something in return. The human soul thrives on appreciation, adoration and the feeling of actually comforting another person even if it’s only momentary (such as giving a significant other a hug). It also can be said by interacting with the less fortunate, we somehow create a more introspective review of our own lives and abilities to accept our own challenges. Whether they be health, finance or relationship related, those that volunteer are more aware of their own issues and how to cope with them more effectively.

Visiting the schools, the message is one of altruism—paying it forward, finding something that gives you back tenfold of what you put in.

While I personally challenge childhood hunger, I tell the kids they need to find something that gives them that same passion, maybe caring for the elderly, cancer patients; developmentally disabled kids … the possibilities are endless. Moreover the message is that it doesn’t require much time, but more a mentality, a way of life if you will, ultimately making your life better. In the end, all we have is each other and it sure does feel good knowing that the people you volunteer for will have hope … and for me that is payment enough.

Comments (1)Add Comment
teacher at Santa Cruz High School
written by Sara DiCarlo-Dunn, March 30, 2010
Thank you Danny for your inspirational editorial...this article attracted young adults to write up your thoughts and suggestions for their 9th Grade Core class which focuses on health....all types of health including spiritual.
Random Acts of Kindness and volunteering....does make everyone feel good.
(One of the students lost the original article and wanted a copy..I helped her find it here. Thank goodness for archives. Again, know you have planted a seed with two, and reminded me why I love teaching young people. Sara

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Body of Secrets

Five things you didn’t know about health and the human body

 

Sun in Leo, Rosy Star, Venus and Uranus Retrograde

Three major celestial events occur this week. Wednesday, the Sun enters Leo, highlighting the heart center of everyone. Leo is a sign of deep sensitivity (along with Cancer). Wednesday is also the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. Saturday, July 25, Venus turns stationary retrograde at 0 Virgo (progressed Regulus, the Law, Hall of Records). Venus retrogrades for 44 days and nights, forming one petal of a five-pointed rosy star (pentagram) in the sky (five retrogrades over eight years = star). Venus retrograde turns values upside down. Our usual sense of beauty, values, the real price of things, relationships—all turn into a bundle of confusion. We don’t seem to know anything. Luxury goods are mispriced, values are jumbled, we wonder who that person is we’re in relationship with. We don’t know where our money is or where it’s gone. Venus, in daily life, represents values (resources, money, possessions and quality of relationships). Venus retrograde asks, “What do I value?” Venus retrograde puts us in touch with what has changed and what is truly of value in our lives. Venus retrogrades from 0 Virgo to 14 degrees Leo (July 25-Sept. 6). Leo is about the self and our creativity, which is how we come to know and value ourselves. We “know ourselves through what we create.” In Venus (values) retrograde (inner focus) we will ask, “What are values (not just money and finances)? What are my values? What do I create? How do I value my creations? Do I value myself?” Sunday, Uranus—planet of all things new, revelatory and revolutionary—also retrogrades (from 20 to 16 degrees Aries) until the full moon of Christmas Day. Five months of Uranus retrograde. In July and continuing on through the following months we have many planets retrograding. Things therefore slow down. Everyone’s focus becomes subjective, hidden by veils and curtains. A time when inner reserves of strength are available. A time of protection.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 24

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

What do you think of Bernie Sanders?

He’s what we need, more hardcore Democrats. Old-school, ’70s-style Democrats. Tony Dolan, Santa Cruz, Freelancer

 

Hunter Hill Vineyards & Winery

Calling all Merlot lovers—Hunter Hill has released its 2013 estate Merlot ($25)—and a superb one it is, too.

 

AJ’s Market

Local cult fave keeps getting bigger and better

 

Have you gone gluten-free?

I am not gluten-free. However, I focus on a vegan raw diet so that really limits my intake. Bill Gibson, Santa Cruz, Sales