The holidays are kicking into high gear. The gift-giving frenzy. The overabundance of food. The never-ending social obligations. This time of year is hectic and for many people, holiday cheer is replaced with seasonal stress and even depression. One thing that can help keep you in check is to remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving – giving thanks. Being grateful and acknowledging what you have, rather than what you don’t have, can change your perspective a bit and give you a healthy boost of optimism.
Being grateful and acknowledging what you have, rather than what you don’t have, can change your perspective and give you a healthy boost of optimism.
One way you can show your gratitude is to do something for someone else. Spreading goodwill is good for your neighbors, the community, and good for you too. Here are some ways you can give back this Thanksgiving.
Give the gift of your time. Visit a soup kitchen, hospital, homeless shelter or nursing home. Helping others is a wonderful way to give back. If you have in mind a specific organization you’d like to volunteer with, be sure to call ahead to make sure they can accommodate you. While charities welcome support, sometimes on holidays, it can be difficult to manage new volunteers.
But remember—the needs last all year. Even if you can’t volunteer on Thanksgiving day when there may be many other volunteers, ask if you can help out the day before the holiday to set up, the day after to clean up, or on one of the other 363 days of the year.
- Start a collection
Organize a drive for a charity or organization. Collect non-perishable foods, new toys or school supplies, toiletries, or other items that could help people in need. Most organizations have a list of “most needed” items. Set up collection boxes in visible locations (always ask permission first) and create signs. Spread the word throughout your community through flyers and social media.
- Welcome someone to your home
Is there a friend, co-worker, neighbor or someone else you know who might be spending Thanksgiving alone this year? Consider inviting them to your home to celebrate the holiday with you. This small gesture can truly lift someone’s spirits, and you may find that the rest of your guests will welcome the opportunity to get to know someone new.
- Do a random act of kindness
Give back by paying it forward. Surprise someone with a random act of kindness on Thanksgiving or any other day of the year! Give someone a compliment, leave a dollar on someone’s windshield, pay for the cup of coffee of the person behind you on line…whatever act of kindness you do is sure to be appreciated. Need some more ideas? Visit the Random Acts of Kindness website for 50 awesome ways you can share the love.
Give back by paying it forward. Surprise someone with a random act of kindness on Thanksgiving or any other day of the year!
- Clean up
Get some garbage bags and gloves and head out to your local park, beach, or downtown and pick up litter. Clean up benches or fences that have graffiti. A little elbow grease will go a long way to bringing beauty to your surroundings. You’ll immediately see the impact of the work you are doing.
Do these things on your own or get your family and friends involved. Make giving back part of your Thanksgiving tradition. Recognizing the importance of helping others is a powerful lesson for people of all ages.