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Posted by Sarah Brown on 21 Dec '18

Can you feel the Christmas spirit all year?

Giving at Christmas makes us feel good. We give presents and time and generally focus on the better parts of human nature. But you can get the same feeling all year long ...

I’m an avid radio listener and this time of the year the radio is full of “feel good” stories about strangers helping people or a story like the bar in Chesterfield, Einsteins, giving a free Christmas lunch to people on their own or families in need, with staff donating their time on Christmas day to do it and others donating food. In fact, according to the Royal Voluntary Service, one in five adults in Britain plan to volunteer over the Christmas period, with more than one million people intending to volunteer on Christmas Day itself.

Of those who plan to volunteer, nearly three quarters intend to donate at least three hours of their time during the festivities and just over one in 10 will gift more than 10 hours. Others will be donating to the many Christmas appeals and we all do it because it makes us feel good. In fact, research indicates that volunteering not only makes us feel good psychologically but it also improves our physical health and helps us live longer.

So why don’t we do more of it? Then you can have the Christmas feel good of doing good more than once a year.

No time?

Lack of time is no excuse. If you have a smart phone you can micro volunteer. Smartphone apps mean you can donate your time in short, efficient bursts. One of my favourites is a Danish platform, Be My Eyes, which connects volunteers from around the world to visually impaired people, who request help for things such as checking the expiry date on labels - Is my food safe to eat? NB the ap is only available on the iPhone/iPad. Search for Micro Volunteering for more opportunities or go to sites like skills for change

But physical volunteering doesn’t have to be time intensive either. Postpals asks people to write cards or letters to sick children, Amnesty International has been asking people to write for political prisoners for 50 years . Ask local charities how you can help, in our local village people muck in selling raffle tickets, washing up at the coffee morning or organising canasta – they don’t take loads of time but make a difference.

But the Christmas spirit isn’t just about formal volunteering, don’t wait until next Christmas to say hello to the lonely old lady in the café, it will make you feel good any time of the year and may make her day!

Here’s to Christmas everyday!

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Tags: volunteering changing lives