There is more to do during the holiday season, and that can increase stress. Many people have expectations that their own holidays should imitate Hallmark channel movies. That is not realistic.

What can we actively encourage at work to help our team members deal with the stress of the holidays?

Have a Team Giving Project During Work Time

Studies show the very act of helping others leaves the giver feeling energized and grateful. Creating a clothing drive for a community shelter, spending an afternoon delivering non-perishable food to a local food bank, or volunteering as a team at an animal rescue helps bond people together.

A team giving project also reduces stress. Sometimes people push back against giving projects because they have too much work to do, but there are good reasons to create a valuable giving project.

Acts of giving can reduce cortisol in the giver by up to 23%. Cortisol is the hormone bodies produce when under stress. If you don’t think this is significant, consider that high levels of cortisol can increase blood pressure, raise blood sugar levels, suppress your immune system, and negatively impact your ability to think clearly.

Being actively engaged in a giving project can also raise your levels of oxytocin, which improves overall heart health. As an added benefit, oxytocin is also the chemical enabling us to feel optimistic and more confident.

Participating in giving projects is good for us!

Giving Projects Can Reduce Physical and Mental Pain

When we want to reduce pain naturally, the trick is to find some way to release endorphins in the brain. Giving to others releases endorphins in the brain. This is just part of the whole “feel good” effect of being kind and helpful to others.

Being Generous Acts as an Antidepressant

Acts of kindness can act as an antidepressant by naturally producing serotonin, the ingredient used in many medications used for depression and anxiety.

It is easy during the holidays to let the busyness of everything going on around us push us further apart. Study after study has shown that when team members are stressed, they need each other more, and yet they are more reluctant to participate in giving projects because they are so busy. Leaders and managers can help by making giving projects part of the workday and adjusting the work so that it does not mean more work later for everyone involved.

What are some of the best-giving projects you have been part of?