Can spending money actually be good for you? A recent study says it might just be good for your health.
Spending money on others connected to improved health
According to Today, research has discovered that spending money on others or volunteering can not only boost your happiness — it can provide health benefits too!
A 2015 article published in the journal Health Psychology revealed findings from two studies connecting better health with generosity. Specifically, spending money on others was shown to decrease blood pressure.
In one study, participants were told to spend a certain amount of money on other people. The more they spent, the lower their blood pressure was two years later.
In the second study, some of the participants were instructed to spend money on others, and the other participants were told to spend money on themselves. The group that spent money on others again experienced a drop in blood pressure — so much so researchers found it was equivalent to taking antihypertensive medication or starting an exercise program!
Ashley Whillans, one of the researchers and a doctoral student in Social Psychology at the University of British Columbia, explained that giving to people closest to you was the most effective way to improve your health through generosity. Though more research needs to be done in this area, according to the study, if you want to improve your health, you can start by being more generous toward the people in your inner circle!
Read more: Farmer donates harvest to the hungry
How you can add more generosity to your life — without breaking the bank
Though health benefits are connected to spending money on others, there is a limit.
‘There is research suggesting that if you help beyond your means, that can have detrimental effects to health and happiness,’ says Whillans. It’s definitely possible to over-give, and you’ll want to make sure you never go into debt to give or give what you can’t afford.
A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that gifts is an area where it is easier to overspend, since it is an ‘exceptional expense.’ But the problem arises when exceptions become the norm.
However, there is a way to give without breaking the bank: Set aside a certain portion of your budget each month for gifts. This way, you’ll reap the benefits of giving without falling into the ‘exception’ trap!
Volunteering also improves health
If you can’t afford to give in the monetary sense, volunteering has been shown to have health benefits as well. Sara Konrath of the University of Michigan found in a study that people who engaged in charitable, selfless activities were shown to have a lower mortality risk, as did two other another studies. In addition, those who volunteer regularly have a lower risk of depression and better everyday functioning and well-being.
If you’re not sure what you’d enjoy, try a few things that interest you and see what you like best. You could help someone else, and gain better health as a result.