The holidays are a time when families come together to celebrate the season of gratitude and while the season is often marked by abundance, it can also be a time of great need.
It can be easy to assume that everyone is doing well during the holidays, but even in seemingly stable families, there exist struggles.
Why not use this time together to look for and help your friends and family that could use an extra hand this holiday season?
Here are five ways to weave compassion – for yourself and others – into the coming holidays.
1. Check In: Don’t Assume It’s All Okay
Do you have a friend or family member that you think might be going through something? Check in and ask. Offer to take them out to lunch, send them a card or a text. Make a phone call. You don’t have to pry into their life but be there and listen to what they have to say. The holidays can trigger all kinds of feelings and are a good time to touch base, especially amid the flurry of holiday cards and photos.
2. Listen to Understand
There’s a difference between “listen to talk” and “listen to understand.” Listening to understand means you’re actively listening to the other person. You’re not in the “problem solving mindset,” you’re in the “exploration” mindset. Your friend may simply need to talk. Or they might need advice or a second opinion. Whatever it is, you won’t know unless you practice listening to understand. Creating space for those story-telling family members is a great place to start – studies show that recounting stories improves self-esteem in seniors.
3. Care for Yourself
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Maybe you’re the one who is always there for everyone and always showing up when people need it most, and maybe this year, you’re going through struggles of your own. Tell someone you need to talk and make the time to do it, whether it’s a friend, a family member, a therapist, or counselor. Your needs are valid and important and your family and friends will respect that you know how to ask for and get the help you need to live your best life. Make it the gift you give yourself this year.
4. Find Causes That Speak To You
Find nonprofits and causes that you can make an ongoing part of your life. Why? Because when a cause speaks to you, you’re more likely to look for creative ways to help it. When you’re actively involved with a cause you believe in, you’re more likely to talk about it with your friends and encourage them to give back in ways that are meaningful in their lives. Giving Tuesday is just one day, but a great day to start.
5. Get Organized
When you know someone who is going through a hardship, like a loved one in the hospital, the birth of a new baby, a sick child, or the death of a loved one, organize your friends and family to help them. This can be done with online tools like Give InKind that help you coordinate financial contributions, calendar tasks, chores, and more on a dedicated page that helps the person in need get exactly what they need. Time spent with family is a great time to pull together and make a plan for supporting someone you love.
No matter how you give and give back this holiday season and beyond, stay mindful about those in need. May we all be lucky enough to not need, but when we do, may we all have the support of our loved ones and community to help us through.
Article by Laura Malcolm, Founder and CEO of social support network, Give InKind.
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