Even though the holidays are a magical time of year they can also be a very hard time for many people. People who already have symptoms of depression feel them even more palpable during the holidays as well as people who experience anxiety and isolation regularly.

All of these emotional struggles are amplified during the holidays as according to the National Mental Health Association, fatigue, financial limitations, missing loved ones and family tensions all contribute to this.

Of course, there is no easy cure for these intense feelings but there is something that will make you feel better and it has science to support it (and no it doesn’t include eating a tub of icing while watching Hallmark movies on repeat.)

According to a report published in BMC Public Health that reviewed 40 studies from the past 20 years, volunteering can boost your happiness. Volunteering was found to help lower depression and give you a higher sense of life satisfaction and happiness.

Volunteering can even help you live longer! One study out of Carnegie Mellon found that it was associated with a 22% reduction in death risk. It looked at adults over 50 who volunteered and found that those who did for 200 or more hours a year were less likely to develop high blood pressure and more likely to enjoy psychological wellbeing.

It has also been proven to help you feel more socially connected, create changes in your thought patterns.

Originally published on The Ladders.

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