Everywhere you look, there are stress-busting recommendations: bath bombs, yoga classes, herbs and supplements. And it makes sense — between worrying about the health of ourselves and our loved ones, managing remote work and schooling, and going a little stir crazy with all the quarantining, there’s plenty of stress to go around right now.

In a study on stress levels in the US during 2020, around 67% of Americans reported a significant increase in stress this year. That’s 2 out of 3 adults surveyed!

It’s not just adults being affected, either. About 9.7% of youth have severe depression compared to 9.2% last year. And 38% of them aren’t receiving the proper mental health support they need.

It can be hard to provide your child all the support they need when you’re feeling stressed out, too. That’s where self-care as a family comes into play.

But how do you combat stress for you and your family? Chances are, bath bombs and nice smelling candles won’t cut it in the long-term.

Turns out, the answer could be right under your nose. Although it’s no fun to read depressing news headlines and see others struggling during the pandemic, you might actually be getting clues for ways you can help out others and in turn, help your own family.

It turns out that one of the best ways to reduce stress and improve your health is to lend others a helping hand.

Volunteering and good deeds are connected to improvements in health including lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, lower risks of depression, and even a longer life!

When you think about it, it makes a ton of sense: What better way to feel connected to humanity and grateful for what you have than watching other lives impacted in positive way thanks to your help?

We all need to feel a purpose. Helping others is one that’s unbeatable.

Finding ways to give back is an ideal way to combat stress as a family, and help members of your community who are in need. Here are a few fun ways you and your family can beat the blues while changing lives this winter.

1) Raise a Service Dog

One of the perks of 2020 is pet adoption rates have increased significantly. People have more time at home to spend with pets, and are seeing the wonderful ways that the love of an animal can enrich their lives.

If your family loves dogs and wants to learn valuable new skills, consider training puppies to become service dogs.

Freedom Service Dogs of America is an organization that connects people with special needs, veterans with PTSD, people with epilepsy, and more receive professionally-trained service dogs to help improve their quality of life and sense of safety.

Their puppy-raising club assigns qualified people and families an adorable puppy that will one day grow up to be a hero. You and your family would be in charge of making sure the adorable pup is socialized, comfortable in new places, and trained in the basics.

And don’t worry — they don’t expect you to wing it. For the 10 months you raise a puppy, you’ll have plenty of online and safe in-person training support to help you build your dog training skills and raise a happy, healthy puppy!

You’ll also enjoy guidance from organization staff members and professional trainers, so no questions will go unanswered.

2) Help Solve the Food Crisis

Hunger was already an issue in the U.S. Now with over 17 million people in the country out of a job during the pandemic, the issue only seems to be getting worse.

Colorado has many organizations working day and night to feed as many people as possible, and multiple ways for you to show support.

Try a virtual food drive to gather donations for your local food bank. This is a great excuse to touch base with family, friends, and community members while giving them a chance to give back, too.

First, check the website of the organization you’re hoping to help, and contact them to let you know you’re looking to do a food drive. Find out the following important information before organizing the drive:

  • If they do virtual food drives (online financial donations)
  • What types of donations they accept (perishable vs. nonperishable)
  • Where drop off and pick up takes place
  • Any special safety guidelines they have

After chatting with the food bank, all that’s left to do is choose a start and end date, then spread the word to neighbors, family, and friends! You can do this via Facebook and Facebook groups, door-to-door flyers that your kids make, signs, and other creative methods the whole family can get in on.

Have donations dropped off on your stoop, and make sure to pass on any other safety regulations you learned from the food bank.

3) Give a Family in Need a Happy Holiday

Holidays can be a rough time for many families. Different life circumstances can make it so presents aren’t possible, let alone a priority.

Do you and your family enjoy shopping? Consider joining an Adopt a Family program. These programs make it so you and your family are assigned a family in need and given their holiday wish list.

You and your family can do a socially-distanced shopping trip to pick out fun and functional gifts that will help put a smile on the face of those in need. In some cases, you can even include letters of encouragement!

As a special challenge, you can have each member of the family make a gift to include. Whether it’s a drawing, a knit cap, or a recording of a special holiday song, this adds a personal touch that can help the recipient family feel even more connected to yours.

Let the Smiles Begin

Helping others is the fun, fulfilling AND healthiest choices you can make! And with so many ways to do it safely, it’s a prospect that’s hard to turn down.  You’ll love the feeling of bonding with your family and watching smiles light up on the faces of family and strangers alike.

Ready to spread joy? Have a chat with your family tonight and see which ideas excite them, or if these three fun ways to help out spark ideas of your own. Be sure to demonstrate the positive impact your time and service will have so they can get as excited as you are!

You can also share all the various ways deciding to give back to others can help their personal growth.

Share these reasons why volunteering is beneficial for kids >