This Holiday Season, Focus on Giving Back, Volunteering, and Charity
The holidays can be tough for those struggling with their mental health. It’s important to take a step back amid the peppermint mochas and Black Friday shopping to remember what the holidays are all about: creating fond memories and putting a smile on someone else’s face. The holidays are a time to cherish what’s near and dear to our hearts, and what better way to do that than with giving back? This holiday season, focusing on giving back, volunteering, and charity can not only put a smile on your face, but someone else’s that’s in need. Giving back has been proven to boost positive feelings. Here’s everything you need to know about how giving back can positively impact your mental health during one of the most hectic times of the year.
An Overview of Giving Back, Volunteering, and Charity
Giving back, volunteering, and charity can look like a multitude of things. Finding a cause near and dear to your heart is what matters most. If everyone chipped in to help where it was needed, this world would be a much better place, and many wouldn’t struggle as much with their mental health. You can donate your time or money to a cause that’s important to you. When it comes to a worthy cause, there is no right or wrong answer!
Giving back is exactly what it sounds like: giving back to a cause that’s had a profound impact on your life. Some people also give back simply because it feels good and enriches the lives of others. Giving back can help make a noteworthy impact, strengthen your local or the global community, meet other like-minded individuals, improve your mental health, improve or hone your skill set, find new opportunities, and beef up your resume.
Volunteering means you donate your time to a cause you hold close to your heart. Lots of people choose to volunteer at their local soup kitchen or animal shelter. There are plenty of living beings, human or animal, that are deserving of extra time, love, and attention. Volunteering can help put a smile on everyone’s face, save resources, reduce stress, provide professional experience, bring people together, and make a difference where it matters.
Whether you’re constantly on the go or have a lot of free time, donating time or money to charity is perfectly feasible for everyone. The best and worst part of charity is that there’s no shortage of causes to donate to. Giving either your time or money to charity enforces civic generosity and responsibility, helps you and others feel good, teaches others the importance of giving, and creates a lasting impact that helps others.
How Giving Back Improves Mental Health
According to Cleveland Clinic, giving back yields several health benefits, including but not limited to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased self-esteem
- Lower levels of depression
- Lower levels of stress
- Life longevity
- More happiness and satisfaction with life
Volunteering, giving back, and charity work can lead to more satisfaction and fulfillment with your life. This holiday season, in the aftermath of a global pandemic, people are in need now more than ever. From financial uncertainty to food insecurity, people are in need everywhere. Giving back to those in need can help put a smile on your face as well as someone else’s.
The holidays are all about giving. Whether you give time, energy, or money for a noteworthy cause, it’s sure to lift your spirits! According to Talkspace, the ‘helper’s high’ can be defined as a selfless act that increases feelings of positivity and happiness. Simply put, helping someone else in need can help you. In a John Hopkins study, it was reported by researchers that those who provided support to others had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t.
When we give back, we secrete feel good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin that activate parts of the brain related to pleasure, trust, and relationships. Another added benefit of the ‘helper’s high’ is that by helping others in need, we positively distract ourselves from our own problems. Distraction is a long-time, coveted skill in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). In DBT, distraction is known as a survival skill. Not only that but giving back can help put things into perspective. One hour of volunteering a week is enough to influence positive change in one’s life.
How to Give Back This Holiday Season
Now that you know that giving back boosts feel good chemicals and provide positive distraction, you may be asking yourself how you can give back in the most beneficial way. Here are some easy ways to give back this holiday season.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
- Run for a good cause.
- Donate to a children’s hospital.
- Cook food for the homeless.
- Help those affected by natural disasters.
- Provide gifts to orphaned children.
- Do arts and crafts with those in assisted living facilities.
- Donate clothes to homeless youth.
- Foster animals at an animal shelter.
- Help provide gifts for low-income households.
- Donate to a charity in a loved one’s name.
- Help with a food drive.
- Provide school supplies to children with special needs.
- Donate money to help victims of war crimes.
- Hold a free garage sale for those in need.
- Bring cans of food to a local food pantry.
- Host a bake sale and donate the proceeds to charity.
- Buy groceries for families in need.
- Pick up trash in recreational areas.
The list goes on and on. There is no shortage of ways to donate your time, money, items, or energy to give back to those in need. This holiday season, focus on what’s important and help where you can! Putting a smile on others’ faces will help put a smile on yours in return. The holidays don’t need to be about trips, mixers, parties, and shopping to be fulfilling. Prioritizing what’s important can help improve your mental health for the better. It only takes 21 days to form a habit. This holiday season, take 21 days to create a habit that changes your life forever and creates positive memories that are emblematic of what the holidays are all about.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.