You probably don't need a reason to give your friends and family members gifts this holiday season. After all, they've spent all year long loving and supporting you, so the least you can do is send them a small token of your appreciation. However, once you learn what giving presents (especially chocolate gifts) and caring for your friends can do for you, you might want to spend a bit more on just because gifts all throughout the year. It's not selfish if they're getting something out of it too!
According to the Daily Mail, scientists at the University of California have conducted studies finding that caring for others by giving support or gifts can actually reward those who do it. Much like chocolate, sex and money, giving presents and caring for your friends and family can give you pleasurable feelings, increase your happiness and lower levels of stress and anxiety.
The study focused on 20 heterosexual couples who were involved in a healthy relationship. Each man was given painful electric shocks while the woman underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans to measure the neural activity in her brain. While this doesn't exactly sound like a walk in the park, researchers were able to make important discoveries about pleasure sources during the experiment.
The women were allowed to hold the hand of their boyfriends at some points during the shocks, but other times they were forced to watch as he got zapped with electricity. When the ladies were able to comfort their boyfriends by holding his hand, scientists found that the reward-related areas of their brains lit up on the fMRI screen, including the ventral striatum and septal area. When there was no hand-holding, these areas had decreased levels of activity.
Scientists have conducted similar fMRI studies on patients who received rewards like chocolate, sex and money, but this gift-giving research is completely new. It proves that giving gifts to others is a rewarding experience - not just to the person receiving the gifts, but to the person who is giving them as well.
If you want to reward both yourself and your loved ones this holiday season, Christmas berries and other chocolate delivery items will pack a double punch. Your pleasure-centers will be rewarded by the act of giving, while their brains will be rewarded with the taste of chocolate. It's the definition of a win-win situation.