Becoming active in your community may be good for more than just a one-off holiday activity to bring the family together.
Two new studies from The Corporation for National and Community Service report that those who volunteer are less lonely and depressed, and feel happier with life on the whole. "There's a certain primary healthcare benefit and there's a certain behavioral healthcare benefit," David Garza, executive director of Henry Street Settlement, confirmed to CBS Philly.
There's more where this came from, too: According to a study from Social Science and Medicine, the chances of being "very happy" increased by 7 percent when surveying American adults who volunteer on a monthly basis against those who don't ever volunteer. That number rose to 12 percent among folk who help out in their communities every two to four weeks, HelpGuide.org reports. And for those who volunteer weekly, 16 percent reportedly consider themselves to be "very happy."
[TRY THIS: 7 Hands-On Ideas to Contribute to Your Community Today]
And the research doesn't end there — according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, adults over 50 years old who lend a hand to those in need regularly are less likely to develop high blood-pressure, Harvard Health Publications reports.
"Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes," said lead study author Rodlescia Sneed, a doctoral candidate in social and health psychology at the college. The report was published in Psychology and Aging.
So there you have it — a concrete reason to do something for the needy (or just the community, generally!) during your off-hours. Though, if we're being honest, you didn't need one to begin with. Next? Pick an activity, join a group, or host a fundraiser that helps a worthy cause. Whether it's making scarves, prepping fresh food in a shelter, helping homeless animals, or knitting warm accessories for those who need it, giving back is always considered a "Good Thing."
Feeling inspired? Watch how to finish a pair of hand-knit mittens: