Everyone knows that when you do something nice for other people, it has a positive effect on you. You feel good for helping others, which encourages us to continue to do good for others. The question is, what actually happens to our bodies when we do something good like charity? How does our body respond?
Through this post, that’s what we’re going to explore – the science behind why people feel good after performing random acts of kindness and how it can benefit your health.
Pain Reduction and Immune System Enhancement
Let’s start with one of the physical benefits of giving to charity. When you do something kind for someone else, various chemicals and neurotransmitters are released into your body. One of the most powerful and important of these chemicals is called dopamine.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that convey information in our brains, helping us do everything, whether it’s throwing a ball or feeling sad. Dopamine is known as the ‘happiness chemical’ because, on almost any occasion, its release leads to positive emotions and feelings of appreciation or happiness.
A side effect of dopamine release is pain reduction, which is also why dopamine release can be associated with some drugs (and can be addictive).
Likewise, doing kind things for other people can have a drastic impact on your immune system, drastically increasing your recovery speed. When helping others and giving in charity, the release of dopamine is guaranteed to have a big impact on your mood and your body, both reducing pain and boosting your immune system.
Mental Health Improvement
In general, doing good for others will improve your mental health. It is the result of the release of countless chemicals (including those we will cover in this post), as well as the reactions of those you help.
Mental health is a complex subject with many factors influencing it, however, there is a wealth of research on the impact of charitable giving in relation to it. In general, most studies have found that showing affection to others is strongly linked to reduced anxiety, depression, and anger, as well as reduced stress levels.
This is also why those who give to charity more often are less likely to suffer from mental health problems. For example, Muslims who donate in the UKespecially during the month of Ramadan, it tends to improve mood and physical health.
This is partly due to their dedication to their faith, but can also be attributed to regular acts of giving charity, as is tradition in the Islamic religion.
Finally, we will look at another released chemical in more detail – Oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the ‘love hormone’, mainly because it is so closely related to empathy and trust. This explains why oxytocin is associated and released every time you give to charity.
Oxytocin has been linked to positive feelings of satisfaction and increased social skills, helping to benefit everyone from those with autism to anyone suffering from anxiety or depression. In fact, oxytocin has even been linked to medication irritable bowel syndrome.
While oxytocin can be prescribed as a medication, it’s almost always better if it gets into your system naturally, especially considering that a quick excess of oxytocin can do more harm than good. This is just another reason why giving to charity is so effective at lifting your mood and making you feel positive, even when you’re not in your best place.
Hopefully, this short post highlights some of the most obvious physiological effects of giving to charity. Doing good for others is always an effective method of improving your own mood, so consider doing random acts of kindness whenever you’re feeling unsure or lacking in self-confidence and you’ll notice the difference.