Neuroscience shows it may be better to give than to receive.
It may be better to give than to receive according to research published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine. In the study, 36 adults completed questionnaires examining their mood, and their perceptions of giving and receiving social support. They also performed a series of challenging activities, and giving-related tasks to see how the brain reacts to stress, reward, and caring.
Most studies of social support look at the impact of receiving help. We know very little about how the brain responds when we care for others, and if these responses buffer us against the effects of stress.
Results of this study showed that both giving and receiving social support were linked to lower levels of depression and perceived stress, less sensitivity to rejection, and fewer feelings of loneliness.
At the brain level, giving support was related to fewer signals of threat in response to a stressful task, and higher activation of the brain’s reward centers.
This suggests that giving may be particularly helpful for increasing
resilience. Authors of the study believe that feeling empowered while caring for others, even when overwhelmed, can be a powerful antidote to stress.
Regardless of the size of the gesture, giving may not just be helpful to others, it may also increase your resilience, boost your mood, and be good for your brain, and your relationships.
Tristen K. Inagaki, Kate E. Bryne Haltom, Shosuke Suzuki, Ivana Jevtic, Erica Hornstein, Julienne E. Bower, Naomi I. Eisenberger. The Neurobiology of Giving Versus Receiving Support. Psychosomatic Medicine, 2016; 1 DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000302