One of the best ways to help yourself and support your healing is to help other people.  Doing good for others fills your day with good feelings of gratefulness from people you helped, takes your mind off your own problems, and gives your life meaning.

Thus, finding opportunities that resonate with your values and make the world a better place is an essential part of long-term recovery.  The holiday season can often be an especially helpful time to find ways to be of service to others.  Here are a few ways you can use the holidays and the spirit of the season to find ways to do good for others.

1. Think about what Gifts You can Give

Lots of cultures have holiday traditions that revolve around giving presents, or hospitality, or other tangible gifts to others. Sometimes this can become a stressful thing, as you stress out over finding the “perfect” gift and end up losing focus on the true meaning of gift giving – showing love and appreciation to someone else.

A recent study by Adam Grant and Jane Dutton found that people were far more likely to be generous if they spent time thinking about times they had been giving in the past.  Reflecting on the joy you can bring to someone with a simple gift can be a powerful incentive to think of other ways you can contribute to the world.

2. Look For Opportunities To Give Back

Whether it’s on “Giving Tuesday,” or through toy drives, special holiday dinners, or other special community events, many groups that are doing good things take advantage of the holiday season to increase their visibility.  Local newspapers, radio stations, and community events web sites will probably be filled with opportunities for you to volunteer and help.

Try to find something that resonates with you in particular, and then just try going out and doing it.  You may find whole new passions and life-meaning created out of the experience.

3. Practice An Attitude Of Gratitude

Becoming aware of how much you have to be grateful for can help you realize how much you have to offer someone else. Keep a gratitude journal, or a reminder of things you have to be thankful for.  This will in turn help you realize not everyone has the privileges you do, and this in turn can enlarge your giving spirit.

It could be a tangible material possession, but could also be a sense of joy, peace, connections with others, or an ability to create.  Whatever it is that you find yourself being thankful for, take time to also think about ways you can share that gift with others.

4. Holiday Traditions And Their Deeper Meaning

It’s very easy for the stress related to holiday observances to distract from the reasons these holidays exist in the first place. No matter how busy or stressful things are getting, take time to reflect more deeply on what the holidays mean to you.

Think about the needs of the world, and bring them to the sense of hope, family, light, and promise that the holidays offer.  One of the best ways to connect the holiday to its deeper purpose is to make it about the good you can do for others.

5. Reach Out To Other People

The holidays are often observed very publicly and part of wider celebrations of joy.  Strangers may be more likely to interact with each other.  As you are comfortable from your culture and your personality, pay attention to other people’s openness to you, and seek to learn about others.

Simply greeting people, wishing them a happy holiday, and taking the time to get to know them or hear their story will enlarge your own view of human experience, and help you think about ways you can be of service.