As is discussed often at treatment centers and in support group meetings, giving back to others is an essential part of the recovery journey. It not only helps others who are less fortunate, but it can also help one's own mental health. The holiday season is often a great time to give back. There are typically more opportunities than at any other time of the year. Between nonprofit events, food drives, and collections for charity, there are more than enough options to choose from this season.
The holidays can be a busy, hectic time of year. It can be hard to balance everything you want to fit in. However, consider carving out some time for volunteer work this year – you'll be glad you did.
The Benefits of Giving Back
The primary reason anyone gives back is to help someone else. However, there is something valuable in it for you as well. When we give back to others, it provides us with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. This is especially important in the beginning stages of recovery when someone may question their place in the community. Another great thing about giving back is that it helps us take on a new perspective. So many times in life, it can be easy to overlook the simple things that we have that others may not. This can be as simple as good health, the ability to walk, a roof over our heads, and a stocked refrigerator. To those less fortunate, these things are often considered luxuries.
When we have a chance to see the things that some people are forced to live without, it causes us to consider the good things in our own lives. This can help foster a sense of gratitude, which is crucial for our overall mental health.
Giving Back Without Spending a Cent
Not everyone is financially able to donate a lot of money to charity, and that's okay. There are plenty of ways to give back that don't require spending a single cent. Consider giving what you already have in your possession. This could be your time or maybe even your talent. You might consider doing a service for someone else. For example, if you're a singer or know how to play an instrument, you could perform some holiday music at a local nursing home or hospital. This can really help cheer up the residents, many of whom might not be exactly where they would like to be this holiday season.
Maybe you have an elderly neighbor who needs yard work done but doesn't have the physical capabilities to do it themselves. Your holiday gift to them could be helping them out for free. Maybe your skill set is associated with vehicle mechanics, and you know of a single mother who can't afford to get her car fixed. Using your skills to help her out could not only take a load of stress off her back but allow her extra money to use toward her child's Christmas presents.
All you have to do is look around and search for a need. Once you have noticed that need, you can then consider what you can do to help.
Additional Ways of Giving Back
Many parents out there are going into the holiday season wondering how they will swing Christmas this year for their children. They may live paycheck to paycheck with no extra money to buy presents, much less a Christmas tree or holiday meal. Consider giving the gift of Christmas to a family in need. Many local churches and nonprofit organizations offer services where they can pair you up with a local family unable to afford Christmas.
The family typically turns in a form with some basic information. This often includes the ages of those in their family and a couple of things they may need or want to receive for Christmas this year. You can then purchase the items, wrap them yourself, and drop them off.
The thing that other people might most want for Christmas this year are things to prepare a holiday meal with for their families. All you have to do is purchase the basics like a ham, stuffing, potatoes, and a dessert, drop them off and let them do the rest. This allows them to have a special meal for Christmas, something they otherwise might not be able to afford.
If none of these ideas are quite jumping out to you, consider some of the following ideas:
- Serve a meal at a soup kitchen
- Donate old clothing, toys, or appliances that you no longer use
- Write a letter to a military serviceman or woman who could be overseas during Christmas this year
- Drop off cookies to an elderly neighbor
- Shovel snow for a neighbor
Christmas is a busy time of year with a lot of things going on, but if you can block out some time this season, consider giving back to those in need. Volunteer work not only helps others but can improve your own mental health. It provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It can also help foster gratitude by allowing us to see all the good things we have that others may not. You don't have to spend a lot of money to help others. Giving your time and talent is very valuable. If you're struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today to learn more.