It can be easy to get overwhelmed during the holidays. There is so much stress with possible traveling, buying gifts, having family in town, etc. While you may look to holiday movie binges or an overload of yummy goodies to cope with extra holiday stress, another coping option is doing something that improves the life of someone else. A large part of the holidays is all about giving back and sharing your wealth and happiness with the world, so making someone’s holiday season better can make your holidays richer and more joyful.
We think of service as an act of helping others, but it’s also an act of helping yourself. Helping others succeed is built into the fabric of what it means to be human. It helps boost your mood, confidence, willpower, and can even give you more energy during your day. Make sure to take time this holiday season to help make someone’s day better and see how much it benefits you too!
Here are 3 favorite benefits of service during the holidays:
Boosts your mood – Any act of service is going to elevate your mood and alter brain chemistry in a positive way. When you help or give a gift to someone, there are “feel good” chemicals that are released in your brain like Serotonin, Dopamine, and Oxytocin. These regulate your mood, give you pleasure, and create a sense of connection with others. We are built to help others, and any act of service will make you feel better about yourself and your own abilities as well as make someone else feel good. It’s a win-win situation.
Deepens your metaphysical connection – We are all connected in some way or another and when you do something good for someone else, it can remind you of this connection. Some believe in good karma and by helping other people, you are putting good karma into the universe in the hopes you will receive good things back. Help can come from the most magical and unexpected of places when you’re open to it. Serving others is a great reminder to be humble and that success never comes by doing everything yourself.
Elevates your capacity for gratitude – An attitude of gratitude can do wonders for your mental health. Accepting and acknowledging gratitude leads to you noticing that your life is good, and you have one worth living. Helping others is a powerful reminder that even small acts of kindness go a very long way to making a difference. It’s all too easy to lose perspective in life, but gratitude will help you regain a clear and positive perspective about what you and others are capable of. It is so easy to get lost in your own world and only worry about things that affect you or your family but noticing that someone else is struggling and wondering what you can do to change their situation makes you more aware of your effect on the world.
How to give on a budget
Not everything act of kindness must be monetary. Lots of times, when charities or foundations are mentioned, it’s usually associated with donations, but not all kindness has to be monetary. Donating your time instead of your money can involve more personal interaction and more reward for both parties involved. For example, noticing your neighbor seems overworked or tired and offering to babysit their kids so they can have a few hours to themselves is a fantastic way to show the people around you care about and notice them. Here are a few examples of how you could support others and your community this holiday season…
- Read to kids – your own kids or at the local library!
- Toys for Tots – take your kids to pick out some toys to donate
- Help a classmate – check and see if someone in your child’s class is financially struggling and anonymously support them
- Sponsor a family – buy some gifts for a family who may not be able to afford them this season
- Make and bring emergency kits to the homeless to help them through the cold months
- Be a hospice volunteer
- Visit members of the local hospital and spread holiday cheer
- Visit nursing homes and senior centers – not everyone has family to celebrate with on the holidays, but many seniors love it when anyone comes to visit
- Meals on wheels – pack meals and help eliminate elderly isolation
- Animal shelters – say hi to some animals who don’t have a family to celebrate the holidays with
Help yourself by helping others. The holidays are right around the corner and by helping those around you, you are helping yourself. Practicing gratitude and regularly performing acts of service has been shown to lower our blood pressure, make us less stressed, and have a longer life span. Take some time to de-stress from your busy holiday schedule and improve yours and someone else’s holiday by performing acts of service.