May 26, 2022
  • May 26, 2022

16 Health-Focused Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

By on December 26, 2021 0 35 Views

How to give back

Whether it’s dropping your spare change in the red Salvation Army bucket, heading up a toy drive at the office, or working at the food bank, you might be looking for ways to spread some cheer by making a difference in someone’s life. Giving isn’t good only for the ones on the receiving end, but for you as well. Here’s why…along with some healthy, meaningful ways you can give to someone who needs it this holiday season.

Giving has mental and physical benefits

Helping someone else during the holidays—or, anytime—can help you feel better. That’s according to Jennifer S. Cheavens, PhD, a professor and the director of clinical training in the department of psychology at Ohio State University. “People who are more prosocial—giving, altruistic, cooperative—report having more meaning and purpose in their lives,” Dr. Cheavens explains. She adds that “doing good deeds is associated with increased happiness and life satisfaction.”

Journals of Gerontology

The American Journal of Public Health


To that end, start by thinking through these questions:

What do you enjoy most? Giving back should involve some sacrifice—but one that inspires you, not that feels like a burden. Pick a way to help that you personally will enjoy.

What resources can you spare? You can’t give what you don’t have, and overcommitting funds (or time) is a pretty sure way to dim your holiday spirit. Be honest about how much time, energy, and money you have to devote to a cause (or multiple causes).

Why do you want to do this? While the spirit of giving is beautiful, toxic guilt culture isn’t. Be sure you’re doing something because you want to, not because you’ve been guilted or shamed into participating.

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How to donate without getting scammed: Safety first

If you’re keeping your gift local, consider checking out a charity in your area by talking with people you know who are involved, or even contacting the organization yourself, rather than going through a middleman or social media. Also, always be very wary of giving out personal information.

Health-centered ways to give back during the holidays

There are so many ways you can give. To help you narrow it down, we’ve categorized altruistic ideas into four healthy living categories: The environment, fitness, nutrition, and mental wellness.

Ways to Help the Environment


Gift a carbon offsetFight climate changeVisit a Giving Machine

Located in major cities around the U.S., the Giving Machines allow you to donate a warm blanket to a local shelter for a few bucks, a composting toilet to a city in the Amazon, or even a pig to a farmer in poverty.

It couldn’t be easier to give back—simply swipe your card, choose what you’d like to donate, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints covers all the costs and delivery.

Prepare for and help with natural disasters

Fires, tornadoes, severe storms, hurricanes, and earthquakes: As climate change increases, so will the rate of natural disasters. It’s possible your community is at risk for at least one type.

It may not seem like the “holiday spirit” at first, but one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones, neighbors, and community is to help people prepare for natural disasters in their area; or by helping with clean up and relief after a weather-related emergency happens.


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Start a neighborhood Santa run

Encourage people of all ages to dress up in their favorite Santa attire and run, walk, or bike the course together. Everyone has fun and gets exercise. For extra goodness, ask people to bring a can of food to donate to your local food bank.

Download a fitness charity app

As you complete your workout goals, Charity Miles will donate a certain amount of money to a charity. You can choose from over 30 charity partners or get your employer or a loved one to sponsor you.

Fight homelessness with fitnessGet girls into runningNutrition

Gulcin Ragiboglu/Getty Images


Food insecurity is a national issue that’s grown more severe during the pandemic. If you’d like to contribute, consider calling your intended food bank first and check to see what they are most in need of this season.

Teach someone how to gardenDonate 10 meals to the hungrySupply nutritious food to starving children

This helps fill kids’ bellies, as well as better enables them to avoid illness and the long-term health complications of malnutrition. You can volunteer by packing meals in one of Feed My Starving Children’s facilities (including their mobile trucks) or by donating funds toward their cause.

Mental Health

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Especially when things in the world seem more uncertain or unstable than ever, you don’t have to be a professional therapist to provide hope, healing, and a genuine human connection to people suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental illness.

Play a part in suicide prevention

The AFSP offers several different ways you can help locally or nationally. Just a couple ideas are to help children and teens by checking with your local school district about volunteer mentoring programs, or teaching suicide prevention workshops.

Help out a service member

People in the military, and their families, are at a higher risk than the general population for domestic violence, self-harm, suicide, PTSD, and mental illness. If you’ve served in the military or loved someone who has, a beautiful way to give back is to look after current service members’ health and wellbeing.

Fight substance abuse

Many parents suffer greatly while trying to help a child deal with addiction, feeling isolated and scared. Your time, sympathy, and a listening ear can be an immense gift—especially if you’ve experienced similar struggles in your own life.

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