This time of year, we tend to get so wrapped up in finding the perfect gift or hosting the most extravagant celebration that we often forget what’s truly important. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to not take anything for granted – whether that is quality time with loved ones or even little things like having the ability to go out to eat. This year has been a tumultuous one, but it has also challenged us to adapt and grow and reminded us how important it is to stay connected to others.
We encourage you to close out this year by giving back to someone in need. After all, there’s no better way to stay connected to others and grounded in recovery than through being of service. Although COVID-19 might make volunteering in person challenging, there are many ways to give back from the safety and comfort of home. Below are some ideas to help get you started.
Thank the heroes on the frontlines
While you may be fortunate enough to momentarily escape from the reality of Covid-19 and enjoy a holiday meal, many health care workers have been isolating themselves from their loved ones and putting themselves at risk since the pandemic began, and that won’t change during the holidays. Through programs like #DearHeroes, you can send them a message of gratitude to help lift their spirits and show them how much you value their sacrifice and commitment to helping others. If you know a health care worker, consider sending them a handwritten letter or a personalized self-care basket. A gift card to a local restaurant makes an excellent gift as well, and it helps support small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Send a message of hope to those who are struggling
Battling depression is never easy, but the holidays, along with cold, gloomy weather and social distancing, can compound negative feelings, leaving those struggling feeling more alone than ever. If you are in recovery or have ever struggled with mental health issues, you know how impactful having a source of support and encouragement can be. By writing an uplifting letter through programs like Letters Against Depression and More Love Letters, you can let someone who is struggling know that they are not alone.
Many senior citizens are also finding themselves isolated due to Covid-19 and won’t be able to celebrate the holidays with loved ones. To send some cheer their way, you can write them a letter or create a warm video message through Love for Our Elders.
Help keep the magic alive
If you have ever wanted to be Santa Claus, this is your chance. This year, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is once again hosting Operation Santa, which allows you to become Santa by granting the holiday wishes of children and families in need. You can view letters from kids all over the country on the Operation Santa website and pick what wish or wishes you would like to grant. This year has taken a tremendous financial toll on many Americans, but with your help and a little magic from the USPS, cheer can arrive just in time for the holidays.
Share your wisdom with others
Have you ever said, “I wish I would’ve had someone to guide me when I was younger?” Do you want to use your story to inspire others? Have you ever wanted to be a mentor? If so, consider signing up for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. Research shows that having a positive influence can transform a child’s life, and you can be the one who helps them realize their full potential. To help keep everyone safe and socially distanced, virtual mentoring is now available, making volunteering easier than ever.
Give a home to a furry friend
Your holiday celebration might look a little smaller and more socially distanced this year, but one extra guest that you can safely add to the list without breaking any social gathering restrictions is a rescue dog. By fostering a dog for the holidays, you allow them to spend some time away from a crowded shelter and in a warm, cozy environment instead. This helps dogs relax and recharge, which increases their chances of finding their forever families and getting adopted. And if you have been feeling a bit lonely, sad, or unmotivated lately, a dog might just be the right answer. Research shows that being around a dog really does increase levels of happiness.
Whether you decide to donate your time, money, or skills, giving back can be the perfect way to stay connected to something larger than yourself and bring fun and fulfillment into your life during these challenging times.