Everyday Ways to Give Back

With all the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it’s hard to carve out the requisite time you’d need to lend a helping hand. Thankfully, living in a world of digital connectivity has its humanitarian perks!

Whether you’re online or at work, here are a few easy ways you can donate your time, cash, or skills to a good cause:

On the Web

Support the arts: Try Kickstarter.
Check out who’s looking to fund creative projects by logging in via Facebook. Then chip in for specific costs ($5 to help cover printing costs, supplies, etc.). When you see the finished product on the big screen or can hold the published anthology of short stories in your hand, you’ll feel like part of the artistic process.

Make your cause to go viral: Try HopeMob.
Register at HopeMob.org and start pushing your cause on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Then, enlist the help of your friends to give the cause a simple “up vote.”With enough votes (only about 200),your cause will hit HopeMob’s home page and stay up until you’re completely funded.

Nab some peace of mind:Try Ammado.com.
Thisfantastic humanitarian site allows you and your friends to donate to small overseas nonprofits securely. Every charity on the site is screened by an international vetting service, so you can donate without worry. Just sign up at the site or via Facebook, and search what you’re looking for by category (like arts, culture, or human rights) and country. It’s easy and rewarding!

At Work

Good with numbers?
Give others the benefit of your financial know-how by working with the United Way to teach struggling families to pay down debt and improve their credit. Simply dial 2-1-1, and sign up to learn how to lead small workshops or coach individuals on becoming financially secure.

Silver-tongued wordsmith?
Use your strong communication skills to manage—or create—a Facebook or Twitter account for a local animal shelter. The online interaction will help encourage people to adopt animals in need, donate to the cause, and support their community shelter.

What are your favorite ways to lend a helping hand?


How to Reduce Stress During the Holiday Season

According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 110 million Americans already take medication for stress-related causes each week, and the holidays only tend to perpetuate anxiety. Even if you’re one of the lucky people who don’t ordinarily feel stressed under the pressure of deadlines or events, the holidays have a way of sneaking stress into the most carefree lives.

There are your children’s wish lists to tackle, the holiday expenses to wrangle, the gifts to wrap, parties to plan, cookies to bake and cards to write—all in addition to your normal responsibilities.

Don’t let stress ruin your holidays. Here are some quick tips for how to keep calm during the bustling festivities:

1. Take some “you” time. If there were ever a time to get a massage, this is it. Book one for December to diffuse the chaos of last-minute frenzies. If you’d rather stay in, pamper yourself with a little dark chocolate and red wine—and for solidarity, invite your best friend over to enjoy a much-needed break.

2. Focus on fitness. Not only is exercise  good for the body, but it also releases endorphins that make you feel happier and more content. Frustrated that you couldn’t find that impossible gift for your niece? Take it on the treadmill! You’ll burn calories, improve your state of mind, and give yourself some time to gain perspective. Remember, a fast-paced walk through the mall also counts as an aerobic activity!

3. Volunteer. Consider volunteering at a local charity. In addition to benefitting from what experts identify as “helpers’ high,” you may also meet new friends and make lasting connections that will enrich your life throughout the entire year.

4. Rethink gift giving. Streamline the hectic process of gift giving by buying fewer gifts, doing all your shopping online, or making modest online donations to the favorite causes of friends and family. No matter what the catalogues tell you, the best gift you can give is your time—so spend it with your family and friends and relish every minute of it.

5. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Remember, you can always say “no.” Consider this an absolute necessity for protecting your health and sanity during the holidays. As a bonus, it works well the rest of the year, too! Stay positive, anticipate happiness, and you’ll make it through the holidays with the right attitude in place for the coming year.

What are some ways you combat your holiday stress?