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Giving also can mean giving a soothing smile or encouraging word to someone in distress or under pressure, such as an overworked cashier or screamed-at airline employee. Everyone — no matter what income level — can afford this kind of giving, Mr. McSwain says.

But how does all this relate to our own health?

“Giving to others helps get the attention off ourselves,” Mr. McSwain says, “and an extreme self-centeredness or self-concern — particularly at a time like this — is counterproductive and unhealthy. It just creates stress.”

Conversely, if you pay attention to the needs of others, your own stress will bounce off you like raindrops on a new umbrella.

“You just can’t be stingy and healthy for long,” Mr. McSwain says.