The Surprising Health Benefits of Gift-Giving

Why do people enjoy gift-giving? According to research, human generosity is a natural part of our makeup. So, it's no wonder people go out of their wa

Why do people enjoy gift-giving? According to research, human generosity is a natural part of our makeup. So, it’s no wonder people go out of their way to give gifts to their loved ones—especially during holidays and other special occasions. Although figuring out gift ideas and shopping for presents can get stressful, the smile we see on people’s faces as soon as they receive one is worth your time and effort.

Did you know that giving gifts helps our health? Aside from the fulfilling feeling, our bodies feel extra better after extending our generosity to the people we know and love. Keep reading to learn more about those benefits!

How Does Gift-Giving Help the Human Body?

  1. Moods improve and become lighter

Have you ever wondered why giving gifts just feels good? There’s a science behind the fuzzy feeling we get after exhibiting generous behavior like gift-giving or volunteering for advocacies or philanthropic efforts. When we hand over presents, our “happy hormones” (serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin) are released in our brains. A National Institutes of Health (NIS) study confirms this, and it even has a name—”helper’s high.”

So if you want to give somebody a well-derived present, do it! It’s such an effective pick-me-up that not only benefits you but other people as well. Believe us when we say that genuine altruism will never go out of style.

1. High blood pressure levels decrease

High blood pressure levels are unforgiving, especially towards people of old age. Does living life in the fast lane constantly stress you out? If so, you may want to slow your roll. Listen to what your body’s trying to tell you before it breaks down. 

The helper’s high we mentioned a few paragraphs earlier may save you a trip to your doctor (or worse, the hospital). A 2013 Carnegie Mellon University study discovered that older adults who did at least 200 hours of volunteer work annually had their hypertension risk lower by 40%. That’s a pretty big number.

Regardless if you give a big or small gift, it significantly affects your blood pressure. So there’s no sweating the small stuff indeed.

2. Anxiety and depression risk rates go down

Depression and anxiety rates have unfortunately spiked as people try to grapple with the pandemic’s harsh reality. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reports that 56% of young adults alone have experienced symptoms of the two mental disorders as the pandemic went on.

With all that said, don’t underestimate the effects of happy hormones. That afterglow we feel after giving something, regardless if it’s wedding anniversary gifts or simple birthday presents, may help us in a more impactful way than we think. 

Research says that the release of happy hormones can help fight against anxiety and depression symptoms. Now that’s a good kind of high. And the best part of this benefit? You won’t be the only one receiving it.

3. Stress levels decrease

In a world with many Prince Johns and Sheriff of Nottinghams around, be a Robin Hood instead. Being selfish and stingy does not good, especially towards stress levels. So don’t be too surprised if the most greedy people you know happened to be constantly stressed.

Generosity’s effect on one’s stress levels is immeasurable. You can feel it flush down after seeing the look on someone’s face after giving someone even the simplest gift in the world. So when people say that there’s nothing like giving back to fellow humans (especially to those in need), they genuinely mean it.

4. Social connections grow

Giving more makes it likelier to be given back. Many studies suggest that one’s generosity gets rewarded over time—regardless of the person they’ve shown it to. As this builds on, so does trust. And we all know how trust is essential in connections. If a person lets you into his or her life, you know you’ve done something right.

Gift-giving is a two-way street; not only do you bring a person closer to you, but it brings you closer to the recipient as well. This (and other positive social interactions) is helpful for one’s overall well-being, preventing conditions that may linger later in life.

5. You’ll live longer

Perhaps gift-giving was the fountain of youth that ancient people were looking for. Instead of traveling to faraway places, maybe they should’ve been extra generous instead?

Jokes aside, generosity does wonders to one’s life span. Don’t believe it? Allow one UC Berkeley study to convince you. This particular research found that older adults who engage in frequent volunteer activities were 44% less likely to pass away within five years than their peers who don’t do volunteerism. The study took other relevant factors (vices, overall health, fitness, age) into account.

It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Gift-giving may be a simple act of kindness, but it’s worth a lot more—especially when it comes to health. So don’t be afraid to share your generous spirit with the people around you.