It might seem odd to say that giving to other people is good for your own mental health - but that's what the science tells us. People who give their time and energy to other people seem to have higher levels of wellbeing and happiness. This doesn't mean giving money. It's probably better and more rewarding to get involved in projects which need your time and mental energy.

Do something nice for a friend, or even a stranger. Take time to thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself and your happiness linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

Give - the evidence

Research shows that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six week period is associated with an increase in well-being.  For older people, supporting others has even been shown to reduce mortality rates.  Giving is a useful way of highlighting the important connection between our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the wider community.  In contrast, actions focussing only on narrow, inward looking activities are unlikely to help improve your well-being

Give someone flowers

If someone is ill in hospital it is commonplace for people to give them flowers. And studies have shown that the natural environment has therapeutic effects and can help with recovery from illness.  But it is also therapeutic to give or do something for someone else.  If you know someone in hospital, a nursing home or ill at home, take them a plant or flowers.  Why not also buy yourself some flowers to brighten up your home

Giving compliments

Giving people compliments is a good way to build relationships and experience your own positive feelings. But try to be spontaneous so it does not look too planned.  And be specific.  Rather than saying "that was a wonderful speech" - point out what you liked about the speech e.g. the way they used humour to make a serious point.  And keep in short.  People can feel embarrassed by over-the-top compliments.

You can find out more in this short film.

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