This time of year is a season of giving. Generosity and compassion are known to increase happiness as our brain releases happiness infused chemicals, like dopamine. In some cases, giving can reduce anxiety and stress, particularly when we are invested with intention.
This year, through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, here are a few ideas to help keep you focused on giving rather than the obligations, the calories, and your busy calendar.
Reprioritize what you do
Look at what you want to accomplish this season and see if there are areas where you can streamline or change a habit. For example, if you have gifts to shop for and you don’t want to spend your weekend at a mall, consider visiting a small business or local craft vendor fair and buy gifts for everyone on your list there. Commit to a smaller chunk of time, rather than wandering the mall aimlessly. If physical gifts aren’t a tradition, dedicate time to an experience as a gift to someone. Or, consider agreeing to give donations to a gift recipient’s favorite charity.
If you like to send holiday cards and are running short on time, consider having sites like Shutterfly or Postable send them on your behalf. You can also minimize who you send cards to, send a heartfelt email, or an e-card.
The main priority when being generous is to focus on the person you’re giving to. If you don’t feel like you have enough time, see what you can shift and reprioritize so that you’re able to.
Small gestures mean a lot
If you work in an office, now is a great time to take an extra coffee break with people you don’t usually spend a lot of time with. This could be an opportunity to mentor, get to know someone better, or simply buy someone a cup of coffee. Small gestures like this can transform someone’s day, for the better, when done with sincerity.
A few years ago I volunteered with my work team at a retirement home. We spent time sitting with the elderly and listening to their stories. It meant so much to both parties. Spending time listening to someone is another beautiful way to give.
Revel in it
Drink the egg nog, sing the songs, watch the sappy movie, eat the sweet, hug, smile, light the candles, decorate. Whatever you enjoy, revel in it. This season comes once a year, embrace the sides of it that are meaningful to you. In doing so, you’ll inspire others to do the same.