The Season of Giving is Good for You All Year Long
December is commonly referred to as the “season of giving” because of popular gift-giving holidays like Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa. But why limit the act of giving to a month or a season? There are many ways to give that don’t include spending much money or energy.
Many of my support group members have shared the positive impact that giving has on coping with lupus. Having lupus or any chronic illness can lead to social isolation, which can lead people to dwell on their problems. Feelings of sadness, anger, and depression can result. But giving to others is one tool in your coping toolkit that can help you feel productive and prevent the blues.
Some benefits of giving that my support group members have shared:
- Helping others helps them feel good, emotionally.
- Focusing on others distracts them from focusing on their own problems.
- Interacting with others in positive ways and building new relationships helps them feel less isolated.
- Having a positive impact helps give them a sense of purpose.
- Learning new knowledge and skills fosters feelings of inner strength and productivity.
Can you think of other benefits of giving?
Be Healthy About Giving
You may want to give but worry about being able to without depleting yourself. That’s a healthy perspective! As with any activity, moderation is key. You want to get out of yourself without becoming so involved in other people’s lives that you lose yourself. Give, but with boundaries so that you feel comfortable and safe in doing so. If it starts to feel physically or emotionally unhealthy, or you feel resentful, you’ve done too much. Remember, find a balance. Your health is top priority, always. Try doing one giving thing at a time, to start.
Ideas for How to Be Giving
Some ways to be giving without a lot of time, money or energy:
- Be kind to others in your everyday interactions, including those interactions you think are insignificant. You never know how your kindness will help improve someone’s day.
- Be a supportive friend, neighbor, or colleague. Let people know you care. When possible, check in on those in need who are in your life. Sometimes a simple, but sincere “How are you?” and listening for a couple of minutes can make a big difference.
- One support group member shared that when she feels down, she writes thank you cards to people in her life who she appreciates.
- Look into volunteering for a lupus clinical trial. It might improve your health, and change the future for all people living with lupus.
- Create lupus awareness to help others living with the disease. Here are some suggestions of things you can do using social media and also out in your community.
- Be a lupus advocate. Check out our Advocacy Resources page. Sign up for our e-newsletter and keep an eye out for our emails asking you to contact your government representatives about important lupus-related issues.
- Get involved with your local lupus chapter. If there is a lupus chapter in your state or region, contact them to find out how you can volunteer with them.
- Volunteer in your community. There are countless opportunities to volunteer. Find something that matches your interests and what you can offer in terms of time commitment and skill. Websites like Idealist.org and VolunteerMatch.org are helpful in finding opportunities.
The list of ways to give is endless. Here are 60 creative ideas to be giving, also known as “paying it forward.” One of my favorites is “Leave encouraging post-it notes in library books and other random places.”
Do you have other suggestions on how to be giving? What creative ways have you paid it forward? Share on the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Facebook page to “give” your ideas to more than 50,000 people who have also been affected by lupus.