Can Giving Gifts Really Impact My Overall Health and Wellbeing?

Have you ever felt warm and cozy feelings when giving a gift? That is called the “warm glow,” a real, scientifically proven feeling that happens when you give someone a gift. For some, it is this feeling of comfort and happiness that causes them to sometimes give too many gifts. But what exactly is that warm feeling, and why does it happen when you give gifts? Let’s dive into the many mental health benefits we experience when giving. 

Factors required to feel good 

Going through the motions of gift-giving is not enough to experience the positive mental health benefits. Three factors determine whether or not you enjoy the positive mental health benefits of gift-giving. First, consider your relationship with the gift recipient. The closer your relationship with the recipient, the more likely you will feel positive feelings. Giving close friends and family gifts helps strengthen and deepen your relationship with them, creating a stronger bond. 

Second, you will feel more positive about your gift-giving experience when you can see the impact of your gift. Instead of giving someone a gift card to their favorite restaurant or store, take them there yourself. Instead of dropping a gift off for them to open later, make an effort to give the gift in person so you can enjoy them opening it.

Third, consider why you feel the need to give a gift. When you feel obligated to give a gift, you are less likely to feel the positive mental health benefits. In contrast, if you feel self-motivated to give the gift, you will experience more noticeable mental health benefits. 

Release of feel-good chemicals 

When you give a gift and the recipient responds positively, it activates your brain’s reward center. When these neuropathways get activated, it signals your body to release “happy chemicals” or hormones. Serotonin helps to regulate your mood. Dopamine will then increase your feelings of happiness and pleasure. Finally, oxytocin solidifies these positive feelings by creating a sense of connection with the other person. 

Your positive experience will encourage you to give another gift so you can enjoy the positive experience again. These positive feelings can become addictive, leading you to give more and more gifts as you seek out that “warm glowing” feeling. This is similar to experiencing the positive mental effects of eating your favorite food, working out, or having an intimate moment with your significant other. 

Strengthened social connections 

Gift-giving can strengthen your social connections with the people in your life. To get the most out of this benefit, you can’t just give any gift. Practice intuition and empathy by giving gifts that can benefit the recipient or are something they need. This is a great way to practice gift-giving when the recipient does not expect it. Perhaps you deliver a thoughtful gift to a new mom and baby. Or you deliver a gift to someone who is sick or injured and in the process of recovering. It could even be a small gift to celebrate someone’s accomplishment of reaching a goal they set for themselves. 

These gifts mean more to the recipient because there is no obligation on you to give the gift. While the gift is important, it is the thought and gesture that comes behind it that means more. Your gift tells the recipient that you thought about their needs and went out of your way to support them. This message strengthens your connection and relationship with them. 

You benefit from these stronger social connections. Humans are social creatures, so these strong connections help you feel grounded. 

Increased self-esteem 

Nothing is more satisfying than knowing you are the master of giving the perfect gift. You feel accomplished when you get the gift right, improving your confidence and self-esteem. This primarily happens when you see the joy and appreciation on the recipient’s face. These positive feelings about yourself can translate to other areas of your life, encouraging you to try new things and go after your goals. 

Reduced depression levels

While gift-giving won’t cure your depression, it can help you manage your condition. Because giving a gift activates the pleasure center of your brain, your body releases “feel good” chemicals. These chemicals help to regulate and improve your mood. The benefit is reduced feelings of depression. As you give more gifts, these positive feelings become more consistent. Over time, you can help your body and mind find a new, more optimistic, normal. 

Lessen the signs of stress

This benefit may be unexpected, as many of us feel increased stress levels during the holiday gift giving season. However, your stress levels actually reduce once you give the perfect gift. You may feel a sense of peace and accomplishment, which is a sign that your stress levels are dropping. Stress also reduces when we spend quality time with the people we care about most, which is what happens when you give a gift. 

Lower blood pressure 

When you reduce your stress levels, you also begin to relax more. Releasing hormones and chemicals in your body can also help reduce your stress levels. An added benefit that results from this is lower blood pressure. When you reduce your blood pressure, you also experience heart health benefits. All of this can combine to help you live a longer and healthier life. 

Experience the mental health benefits of gift-giving

When you give thoughtful gifts to the people you care about, you can experience positive effects on your mental health. While we describe the benefit as a warm and cozy glow, we now know many different things are happening behind those good feelings. Positive endorphins are released in your brain to impact your mood, relationships, and outlook. The positive feedback we receive strengthens our relationships and improves self-esteem. 

Encourage your family to sign up for Giftster so that you know the most important people in your life will gain all of the health benefits too from giving gifts that are truly needed or wanted.

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