Yeah, Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Isn’t that just something your mom always told you so that you wouldn’t be upset when your siblings got better gifts than you? Well, lo and behold, maybe Mom was right!
Researchers have found that the mesolimbic pathway is activated by charitable giving. This area is one of the major pathways where you find the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with the brain’s pleasure system. Furthermore, donating also appears to increase the release of oxytocin, a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter and is involved in social bonding and building trust between people.
So this holiday, find a way to give back. Not only will it make you feel better, but social activities are good stress reducers too. If you and your family are at each others’ throats with too much togetherness, plan an activity together.
- Go feed the hungry at a local community center
- Walk the dogs at a local shelter
- Visit the sick at a hospital
- Clean a park or beach together
Having an activity together will take the focus off of each other and give you a reason to work together, bond, and enjoy your dopamine/oxytocin rush. It’s good for your brain.