The brain regions that are active when you make a generous decision are connected to happiness-related ones, so it makes sense that you’d feel a hit of joy when you give something away, according to Philippe Tobler, associate professor of neuroeconomics and social neuroscience at the University of Zurich who has conducted research on the subject.
Giving is also associated with better health and a stronger immune system, he notes. And in fact, it does not matter what you give (whether it’s money or time, for example), as long as it is a valued resource, per Tobler. “According to the ‘warm glow’ model, the more we give the more joy we experience, although in our own research, the amount was less important than whether people gave at all.”
In addition to donating to your favorite charity or volunteering for an important cause, #GivingTuesday can be about random acts of kindness like picking up the tab for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop or sending someone a text of gratitude. Find more ideas here.
Good news for the busy holiday season: Exercising for just 10 to 30 minutes may be enough to improve your mood, according to a 2018 review in The Journal of Psychology. Researchers also found that anaerobic exercise was more consistently linked to beneficial mood effects than aerobic exercise, and that moderate intensity is best for maximum improvement, the British Psychological Society Research Digest reported. For a workout that checks these boxes, try Or Artzi’s Cardio Sculpt: Plyometrics + Planks on Equinox+.
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