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Gift-giving can boost happiness for the giver and the recipient
Gift exchanges. Secret Santas. White elephants. Christmas morning and Hanukkah evenings. It’s the season for giving, and all that generosity is good for those who give and those who receive.
Scientific American has highlighted the psychology of gift-giving and generosity. When you give someone a present, your brain increases the amount of feel-good chemical oxytocin. It also releases serotonin and dopamine, two other chemicals that provide you with all the positive feels. In addition to these physiological reactions, gift-giving creates lasting bonds with others—all the more important for older adults seeking opportunities for socialization and meaningful connection.
Gift-giving makes us happy, even happier than gift-receiving. Greater Good notes five ways giving is good for us, including our health. Giving to others provides benefits to the elderly and those with chronic illness. Those providing gifts or regularly volunteering greatly improve their well-being. Being generous can lower blood pressure and stress, too.
Residents of Friendship Village senior living community participate in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season through an array of activities both on- and off-campus. That includes decking the halls, a large variety of special performances on-site, trips to venues like Prairie Center for the Arts for “The Nutcracker” with the Schaumburg Dance Ensemble, and more. The action continues through all of December with celebrations, musical entertainment, and observances.
So many studies have shown that socializing is particularly important for the well-being of older adults. Holiday reciprocity can be a central aspect of making new friends and deepening connections with old buddies. The gifts don’t have to be expensive either, bringing to mind the old adage, “it’s the thought that counts.”
The reality is that there is enough stress already during the holiday season. Gift-giving is a fun ritual that benefits the body and the soul, and being generous is something that can be achieved all year long.