Some of the most solid and true advice ever given is this:
When you’re feeling down, go do something good for someone else.
Giving makes us feel better. Science has proven that it releases more of the feel-good hormones in our brains, which in turn helps make a yucky afternoon (or day, or week, or season) better.
But we don’t really need science to tell us this. When we spend time focusing on something other than ourselves, we give our spirit a break from what’s troubling us and can share in the joys, sorrows and humor of others.
Some days are hard. Sometimes the biggest victory is simply getting out of bed in the morning and taking a deep breath. And that’s a true victory. But on those days that we’re feeling so down, so unmotivated that all we want to do is watch Golden Girls reruns and devour a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream, getting up and doing for someone else is exactly what the feel-good hormones ordered.
And on those days it can be hard to feel like we have anything to give. But giving isn’t just about writing a fat check to a non-profit (although there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, either!). If you have a half hour, an hour, a morning free, you can volunteer your time with a local charity that’s doing something you believe in. If you’re stuck in bed sick but can’t sleep, you could use that time to knit a scarf as a gift or read over a colleagues’ rough draft of their book.
“giving back saves me every moment of my life. when i am giving i am receiving. i know of no other way to rebound from a bad day than to give and live in the skin of someone else who needs more than i do. that said, a warning to all working moms, especially single working moms. you have nothing left to give. please take care of you. and remember when you need rest, take it. exhaustion immobilizes us,” cristina carlino said.
Have two arms? Give a hug! A mouth? Give a smile! Have one good eye? Give a wink!
Charity and community groups are always looking for volunteers. Check your local library’s children’s group- they could probably use another reader. Have a friend that loves fitness and wants to begin a health group? Offer to set up a local MeetUp for her. You dad has boxes of slides from forty years ago? Offer to have them digitized.
It really doesn’t matter what it is you do, as long as you’re doing something. You’ll be amazed at the beautiful, positive impact you’ll have on yourself (not to mention on everyone around you!).
It always helps to have a go-to list you can use when you’re feeling down. Make that contact with your local library now, so that when you’re having one of those couch days, you’ll know you have something prepared.
You can keep a list of them here, too. We’d love to see all your great ideas of how to give- we’re sure you’ll all have far more creative ideas than we’ve written here to share! Post them in the comments, and we’ll all be better for them.