Your parents told you to be nice to people. Guess what? They were right. This is why
Posted on September 19, 2020
Doing good doesn't just benefit other people. It also helps us.
Studies show that helping others increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel satisfied. Another benefit of feeling rewarded when we do good: it reduces our stress levels.
It feels good to do good.
In a 2016 study, researchers asked participants about settings in which they gave or received support. The study, published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, found that MRI tests showed only donation cases correlated with reduced stress and enhanced activity in the brain's reward centres, suggesting that providing support it ultimately had greater mental benefits than receiving it.
Many studies have established a connection between volunteering and improving health. In the brain, acts of kindness release powerful chemicals like oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, elevating our mood, increasing reward stimuli, and reducing stress. Compassion causes a lower heart rate and reduces coronary distress. Oxytocin is also related to social bonding, so as it is released, the bonds that bind us are strengthened.
Researchers from the Oslo Metropolitan University in Norway and the Technical University of Dortmund in Germany explored the relationship between volunteering and well-being in 12 European countries, pointing to the relative lack of such studies outside of the U.S. Their 2018 analysis found that people who are or have been volunteers report greater well-being than people who have not.
And in a 2013 Canadian study published by the National Library of Medicine, researchers looked at the effect on the cardiovascular health of teens who volunteer. The study confirmed that helping people lowered the volunteers' body mass index and other cardiovascular risk factors.
Reference: Rotary e-club Puerto Rico y Las Américas.
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