The more you give, the more you get. It is better to give than to receive. Giving is the gift that keeps on giving. There’s a reason why phrases like these are so well known, and it has everything to do with the power of giving to others. With the season of giving almost upon us, we thought it was the perfect time to let you know some of the ways giving is really good for you, psychologically speaking. Why don’t you “give” yourself a break for just a moment and find out how the gift of giving could benefit you this upcoming holiday season and beyond.
Giving Can Create “Feel Good” Chemicals
There is evidence that during the act of gift-giving behaviors, humans can produce “feel good” chemicals in our brains, such as serotonin, dopamine (the “feel-good” chemical) and oxytocin. When researchers from the National Institutes of Health looked at the MRI results of subjects who gave to various charities, they found that giving stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, which is the reward center in the brain — releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the “helper’s high.”
According to U.S. News and World Report, generosity affects both our brains and our overall mental health, possibly even extending our lives. Kindness and compassion have been a focal point of psychology research for decades, and studies have consistently shown that improved mood and increased longevity are connected to giving – whether it’s monetary donations to charities or volunteering.
It Might Help Lessen the Risk and Symptoms of Depression
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health back in 2013 found that giving time and assistance to others reduced the mortality risk tied to stress. The study looked at 846 adults in the Detroit area and found that stress did not predict mortality for participants who had helped others within the previous year. The link between stress and mortality was apparent in people who didn’t lend a helping hand, even after adjusting for age, health and other variables. Another similar study followed more than 2,000 residents of Marin County, California, and found that volunteerism reduced mortality rates more than exercising four times weekly. Subjects who volunteered for two or more causes had a 63 percent lower rate of mortality than people who didn’t volunteer during the study period. The findings were published in the Journal of Health Psychology.
Now that you know even more about the gift of giving make sure you try and give a little extra this holiday season. It’s one of the best gifts you can give your brain for Christmas every year.