A recent survey by the Australian Red Cross revealed that more Aussies than ever are feeling isolated and down during the holidays, but there are simple ways to give back that will also help boost your mood around Christmas time.
“Nearly two out of five people recalled feeling isolated or lonely last festive season, with the main reason being away from family or friends,” Red Cross Director Australian Programs, Noel Clement said.
Some other reasons include having fewer social connections than previous years and financial issues.
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The good news is that gestures such as donating your time, money or offering a connection can help put a boost back in your step and ease negative Christmas feelings.
Volunteering your time
If you don’t have plans for for the festive season, it can be a good opportunity to spend time with others, helping you to feel connected and minimising that lonely feeling.
“Our volunteers tell us time and time again how much they themselves gain from giving back,” Mr Clement said.
The Red Cross volunteer website can help match you to positions in your local area and narrow down events and causes where your skills will make the biggest impact.
The Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross, Sydney host one of the biggest Christmas events in Australia and 650 people volunteer their time each Christmas Day to feed and entertain people in need.
The process is so rewarding that all the offical volunteer positions have been filled for Christmas Day but anyone in need is invited to attend. Sharing a meal or conversation with others can help spread some much needed friendship.
Volunteers are needed all year long and can also help increase your employability and foster long term relationships.
You can find opportunities through websites like Seek Volunteer which has the largest database of volunteer positions in Australia.
Give gifts that can change lives
The season of giving often inspires more generosity and there are gifts that people can unwrap on Christmas morning that can reach further than your home.
The Vinnies NSW Drought Appeal can help farmers by providing food to families or filling the bellies of livestock.
From Monopoly to bath toys, The Salvation Army Gift Appeal is aiming to provide 2,200 children with a toy to wake up to on Christmas morning and the hardest part is picking from the dozens of fun toys carefully chosen to cheer up children in need.
Friends With Dignity allow you to donate items such as linen and toiletries to survivors of domestic violence and even provide a list of the most needed items in each state around Australia.
Foster a furry friend
There are so many animals in need of forever homes, temporary fostering and injured wildlife that a quick internet search can help match you with your preferred creature whether they have wings, scales or fluff.
Try adopting from the RSPCA for a full time addition to your family instead of buying from a pet store.
If you don’t have the time or space to care for an animal, WIRES can help you become a virtual carer for a monthly donation, you can adopt a koala through WWF and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will let you pick out ‘pawfect presents’ like comfy blankets or training sessions for future guide dogs.
Extend an invitation
The Red Cross found a significant increase in those who are unlikely to have plans on December 25, so if there is someone who you have lost touch with, reaching out is a simple way to connect with those who might be overlooked this year.
“By making contact with someone you haven’t heard from for a while, inviting one more person to the Christmas table, being kinder on social media, increasing your compliments, listening a little harder, speaking to your neighbour – you make can make a real difference,” Mr Clement said.
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