27 Sep 2018

How Being Charitable Increases Your Wellbeing

By Hannah Whiting
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By Oxbridge Home Learning, Corporate Member of LoveBrum

@OxbridgeHome | 0333 363 5314 | info@oxbridgehomelearning.uk

 

Many choose to donate their time, money and efforts to fundraising because they selflessly want to help improve the lives of others. However, it is evident that by doing so, your wellbeing naturally increases as well. This is not something to be ashamed of; in fact, it is something to celebrate. If you can improve your own life and create positive impact on the world around you at the same time, you’ll undoubtedly contribute towards building a stronger, happier and more connected community.

At Oxbridge Home Learning, we’re dedicated to changing people’s lives, encouraging them to become lifelong learners who can learn without limits. We’ve been thinking about the charity work we’ve done and how it’s enhanced our own wellbeing, and have come up with five key areas that tick all the boxes:

Mindset

Many people report higher levels of happiness after donating to a charitable cause… but why is this? Well, it’s because the part of the brain that triggers happiness is also associated with altruism. Therefore, by participating in charitable acts on a regular basis, you’ll likely improve your mental health and develop a positive mindset. Yes, that fulfilment you’re feeling is the power of making a real difference in the world.

Our founder, Matt Jones, is one of those people. As a corporate sponsor of LoveBrum, he joined them in presenting a £2,000 cheque to SoLo Life Opportunities, a charity ’embracing disability, empowering lives’. Matt got to meet the people supported by SoLO and learn how the donation will impact them.

Matt said: “It was incredibly motivating meeting the inspiring individuals at SoLo, they’re a delightful organisation and meeting everyone was a real joy. It’s great to see first-hand how LoveBrum’s efforts translate in to real changes for deserving organisations that may often be overlooked by mainstream charitable giving. Without a doubt, their humility and hard work makes me want to do more to help.”

A little humanity goes a long way, and the benefits of volunteering, fundraising or donating are immeasurable for everyone involved. You’ll be impacting lives in a positive way and feeling more positive in the process.

Structure

Have you ever noticed how those that dedicate time to volunteering for charities generally have more organised lives? There seems to be a correlation between structure and increased wellbeing because, by managing priorities or creating structure, you’ll feel more in control of your life and better prepared for challenges you may face.

Instead of giving into the temptation to be lazy, finding the determination to help others gives you a purpose and a focus. Therefore, this improves your wellbeing because it encourages you to organise your life and maintain a healthy balance of activities.  

Alongside FutureFaces, the Oxbridge team recently helped the Buddy Bag Foundation by spending an evening creating ‘backpacks of love’ for children in emergency accommodation. These bags were filled with several goodies, from pyjamas to books, crayons, teddies, toothbrushes and toiletry essentials. The aim was to bring structure, love and smiles to children’s lives. All members of Oxbridge felt that participating was humbling and fulfilling, and they were more driven than ever to continue volunteering.

So, instead of wasting an evening binge-watching Netflix, they prioritised, doing something to help someone else and changed their attitude towards what they could do with their personal time.

Rob, of Oxbridge, said “I think being charitable humbles you. Filling the goodie bags made me think about the small things we often take for granted, such as clothing, a roof over our heads and family. It had a real impact on me, and it’s something I want to do again in the future.”

Goal-orientated

Let’s say you’re fundraising – a goal-orientated task. Usually, this involves tackling a personal challenge, which encourages family and friends to support you by donating money to your chosen charity. Whether you’re running a marathon, climbing a mountain or swimming the channel, many people choose to take on a challenge that puts their physical abilities and mental determination to the test.

By focusing on a goal that challenges you but is also attainable, you’ll experience growth and personal development by pushing past your limits, as well as achieving a donation target for a chosen charity. You’ll be killing two birds with one stone: aiding good causes while improving your physical and mental wellbeing.

Alicia, from the Oxbridge comms team, completed the world’s fastest zipwire in Wales for Acorns Children’s Hospice in memory of her uncle. The challenge was liberating, a goal that helped her face her crippling fear of heights. Speeding at 125mph, Alicia was supported by loved ones and colleagues to raise over £700 – enough money for Acorns to house a family for an entire week.

Natalia Keene, Corporate Fundraising Manager for Acorns, said: “We’re really grateful to Alicia for taking on Europe’s longest and fastest zipwire challenge for Acorns – what a scary but exciting way to raise money! We rely on the support of people like Alicia to help us raise the £10million needed each year to run our hospices, so we can’t thank her enough.”

Empathy

One of the benefits of being charitable is developing the ability to empathise. Meeting people from different walks of life, learning of their difficulties and understanding the challenges others face, helps you become a more reflective and grounded person as you gain different perspectives on life.

Sometimes empathy comes from personal experience too. Many people choose to assist a particular charity because they’ve been affected themselves. They want to fight for a cause and inspire people that come from similar places to be more. For example, Savannah of Oxbridge completed her Tough Mudder challenge for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society earlier this year.

She said: “This was the first physical challenge I had ever done since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis myself. Raising money for the NRAS motivated me to try my hardest and defy my condition, because I was focused on helping the lives of other people suffering with the disease. I know how bad it can be, I know how it feels, so I felt like whilst I was able, I should do something to support them.”

Connections

With volunteering and fundraising comes new friends, networking opportunities and a strong sense of community. Naturally, your wellbeing improves when you feel connected to more individuals who share a common purpose. In 2016, Oxfam conducted research that found volunteers felt less lonely, on average, two hours less than they did before they became a volunteer.

When you make more connections, life often presents new opportunities and opens new doors to new experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise had . You may well find that the people you meet strive for similar goals as you, and care about their personal development and growth just as much as they care about supporting those in need.

As a distance learning college, we support people to connect and become lifelong learners who seek every opportunity in life to learn and better themselves. By being charitable, people naturally experience improved wellbeing as they open their minds to new experiences and ways of understanding life.

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