Research shows that helping others can make us feel enormously better about ourselves. It’s called “helper’s high.” Being there for others in their times of need makes us feel more a part of a community that watches out for its own members.

For more than a decade, psychological studies have shown the significance of this phenomenon. It’s been linked to the release of brain chemicals, such as endorphins, that uplift our mood and attitude. Some research has even shown that this can strengthen the immune system or relieve aches and pains in the body.

This New Year, improve your health by giving to friends, family or even strangers. There are many things you can do to achieve this “helper’s high” that comes from selfless action.

First, consider showing some poignant gratitude to those who have helped you already. Hand-written thank you notes are much more personal than an email, phone call or a casual “thank you.” A sincere message of thanks is special to the recipient who might deeply appreciate the sentiment. Plus, the good feeling he or she gets from being thanked in a meaningful way will karmatically make you feel good about yourself as well. This can also make us feel grateful for what we’ve been given, which is important for putting our lives into perspective.

Another great way to attain that warm feeling of altruism is through volunteering with community organizations or projects. Whether it’s political activism, working at a soup kitchen, building for Habitat for Humanity, or any number of other activities, community service is a fulfilling endeavor that will be its own reward. Not only are non-profit organizations often severely under-staffed, meaning infinite appreciation for volunteers, but it’s extremely satisfying to see the tangible results of our efforts given freely to aid our fellow people.

Christmas and birthdays are not the only times of the year we can give each other gifts. In fact, a random present to a spouse or friend can bring us a wonderful feeling in return. Keep in mind, gifts come in many different forms and are not always bought at a store. A special night out, a helping hand with regular mundane chores or pursuing someone else’s hobbies or interests can all be terrific demonstrations of love. The faces of our loved ones lit up with joy can be the greatest gift of all.

Just remember that if you want good for yourself, the direct path isn’t always the most effective path. “What goes around comes around.” Giving something of yourself — time, financial contributions, energy, etc. — to those around you can ultimately come back to you in even bigger and better ways. : :

Tyler DeVere

Tyler DeVere is a former editorial intern for QNotes.