Staying Sane This Holiday Season by Helping Others

This Holiday Season Stay Sane by Helping OthersHow to stay sane during the holidays? I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t find the holidays stressful. Maybe it’s because you work in retail and this is when you have to put in your longest hours. Maybe it’s because you can’t afford to celebrate as “big” this year as you used to. Maybe it’s because you lost someone you love and this is your first holiday season without them.

Whatever the reason, it’s easy to get swept away in the riptide of holiday stress. But as counterintuitive as it may seem, one of the best ways to combat the insanity of the holidays is to add one more thing to your to-do list: Helping Others. That’s right, this holiday season, you can stay sane by helping others in need.

There are so many ways you can help your neighbors in need this holiday season that practically require no time or effort at all! I have two annual traditions I participate in that I really enjoy. The first is a Pie Sale. I can’t bake, and I don’t have time to sit in a vendor booth at some holiday bazaar, but no worries! This pie sale is organized by Mama’s Kitchen, in my hometown of San Diego, which delivers fresh meals to patients suffering from AIDS and/or cancer and their families. The pies are baked by the best restaurants in town and my friends and family buy them through my online bakery. All I had to do was set up my account online and tell my friends about it. Each $20 pie means two days of fresh, nutritious meals for a patient or kid. No matter how crazy my holiday schedule gets, I know my virtual bakery is open for business and I’m making a real difference for people in my community who really need help. And that’s a very calming feeling, believe me. If you live in the San Diego area, or if you’d just like to donate to Mama’s Kitchen (that feels pretty good, too!) click here. Or look for a similar organization in your town.

Read Related: 5 Ways to Manage Your Stress During the Holidays

The other event I participate in every year is a fashion show fundraiser for Talk About Curing Autism (TACA). I have several friends who have children with autism, and this event not only supports these moms but it also helps their friends and families understand more about autism today. Many of the models are TACA moms who share their stories during the event. I’ve learned volumes from these brave women and their strength has definitely motivated me to keep a cool head during the holidays. Plus we have so much fun pretending to be supermodels on the catwalk! To learn more about TACA or attend the event (in San Diego), please visit

Right now, millions of our fellow citizens have suffered incalculable loss in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many people have not only lost everything they own, but people they love as well. This holiday season they lack the most basic necessities. Contact local charities to see about donating clothing and other goods or donate cash (in any amount) to the American Red Cross. Rest assured, any small donation that you can spare is sure to keep you off the “naughty” list for quite some time.

Helping others, in any capacity, during the holiday season helps you, too. For one thing, it’s easy to ignore Aunt Rosa’s critique of your store bought pie when you know that pie has helped feed a kid who has a terminally ill mom or dad. Keeping your own holiday drama in perspective means you can actually enjoy each moment to the fullest with the people you love most. And that’s a pretty good return on your small investment.