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Why does Giving make us happy? The science behind that fuzzy feeling

Quite simply – we get ‘helpers high!’  Undertaking a kind act stimulates the release of neurochemicals in your brain’s reward centres that improve emotional wellbeing and reduce stress in the long term. Pretty cool.

It’s good for you

Biologically, giving can create a “warm glow,” activating regions in the brain associated with happiness, connection with other people and trust.

There is evidence that when you give, “feel good” chemicals are released in our brains such as serotonin (a mood-mediating chemical), dopamine (a feel-good chemical) and oxytocin (a compassion and bonding chemical).

It also stimulates the reward center in the brain — releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the “helper’s high.” And like other highs, this one is addictive, too.

And it’s good for the next person too

Giving makes you—and those around you—happier.

Generous people are fun to be around, aren’t they? Whether that’s someone who gives their time, talents or words. They encourage others and inspire them to be better than before.

And more than that, their generosity is contagious. Giving makes us feel good; and when we feel good, we’re better at making those around us feel good, too.

So, what can you do?

Giving doesn’t have to be about grand gestures, and it definitely doesn’t have to be about money. Of course giving to charity is a perfect way to make a difference, but there’s also so many other things that you could do without even realising it!

Give your time: Volunteering is a great way to give. The University and the Students’ Union both have plenty of opportunities to help you find the right kind of volunteering for you. And, if you don’t have the time or space to commit to regular volunteering, check out the volunteer days where you can give a few hours on a specific day working on a specific project.

Random act of kindness: Think about how good it feels when someone holds a door open for you, or lets you out in traffic. You can easily do that for someone else! Let someone in front of you in a queue, give a compliment or even buy a stranger a coffee.  It’ll make their day and release all those neurochemicals in your brain. Win for everyone.

Give a compliment: Yes that’s right, even paying someone a compliment or sharing some thoughtful words can make a difference to someone’s day. Strike up conversation with a stranger, talk to someone you admire or just send a nice text to brighten someone’s day. Trust us – you’ll wish you did it more!

Giving Tuesday

Tuesday 3rd December is Giving Tuesday, an international day of kindness where everyone is encouraged to give back in their own way, creating a chain of kindness that passes from one person to the next. We have a few surprises in store on the day so look out for them around campus, and make sure to pass on the kindness to someone else too!

For more information on the six ways, see Student Support.

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