What the Holidays Are Really About

Every year you rush through the holidays in a frenzy of shopping, eating, drinking, and traveling. You spend too much. You overindulge. Your stress level goes through the roof. And when it’s all over, you vow that next year you’ll do things differently. You’ll reconnect to the spirit of the holidays. Well, next year is here. Before you get caught up in the holiday hustle, remember last year’s mayhem. Then think about how you can bring spirituality and altruism to the holiday table. 


 Here’s one way to do it: Volunteer.

Good for Others, Good for You
Whatever your interests, you can find an organization right in your backyard that needs some kind of help. The arts? Your museum needs docents. Kids? Schools, libraries, and youth groups need leaders. Sports? Your local basketball league needs coaches and referees. Religion? Your place of worship is waiting for your call.

And while you are helping others, there’s so much in it for you. The Mayo Foundation lists many ways that tapping into the spiritual can help you:
  • You’ll focus on what really matters. Spirituality may help you discover what’s really important. That can lower your stress by helping you let go of the less important things in your life. 
  • You’ll connect to the outside world. A sense of purpose in the world brings inner peace, even when you’re alone or facing hardship of your own. 
  • You’ll make new relationships. Sharing spiritually based work can bring new people into your life. 
  • You’ll be healthier. Scientific research seems to show that positive social interactions boost the body’s ability to heal itself, reducing blood pressure and chasing away anxiety. Studies have found that older men and women with larger social circles have a much lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease.

Do Well by Doing Good
Volunteering may even help you live longer. A few years back, researchers at the University of Michigan collected information on the health and habits of more than 1,200 older adults. Then they tracked their health over the next seven years. 

The researchers found, after taking all factors into account, that people who had been volunteers at the study’s start had the lowest death rate. Those who volunteered a modest 40 hours a year—that’s less than one hour a week—fared the best.

This holiday season, why not reach out to others. Look for opportunities to volunteer with organizations you care about. Do well—and be well—by doing good.

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