Giving Tuesday is December 1st. Coming as it does on the heels of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a way to counteract the bombardment of conspicuous consumption and the onslaught of ads and commercials pushing you to buy even more than ever before.
Giving Tuesday is less about “stuff” and more about substance.
It’s a chance to come together with family, friends, and the community to give back in real and substantive ways that go beyond the next shiny toy or newest electronic gadget.
Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Giving Tuesday utilizes social media to encourage people to donate their time, talent, and resources to organizations making big changes in the world. It’s a way to bring people together to harness the power of businesses, nonprofits, and individuals to bring improvements locally, nationally, and around the globe.
Since Giving Tuesday was created, there has been a 470% increase in online donations to charities on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, with over 30,000 partners in 68 countries organizing and participating in events.
For those with chronic pain, giving thanks and giving back are two crucial parts of a comprehensive treatment plan. Here’s how to reap the benefits of Giving Tuesday.
1. Spread the word
While shopping holidays like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are deeply embedded in the American subconscious, Giving Tuesday may not be as well-known. Encourage friends and family to participate by posting to social media with the hashtag #GivingTuesday. Teachers can use the classroom guides to focus lessons, and businesses and individuals can use the toolkits for organizational ideas.
Even just talking about it can build awareness of the importance of this holiday, especially as it relates to the gluttony of holiday shopping.
2. Give to pain research
There are numerous pain-related charities that are doing great work to build awareness and focus research in hopes of better treatments. Choose one and volunteer on Giving Tuesday, or direct some end-of-of-the-year dollars to them (and reap the tax benefits, too).
Figuring out which cause to support is the easy part. Finding a reputable charity that utilizes donations to further the mission (and not line the executives’ pockets) is key to making sure your donated dollars do the most good.
For charities in the U.S., we like to use Charity Navigator to find non-profits that are reputable and upstanding. For charities all over the globe, Guidestar is our go-to for information on a foundation’s use of funds. All the best intentions and donated dollars won’t make much difference if the organizations aren’t using your money ethically. Take a moment to search for them on one of the links above for peace of mind.
3. Boost your mood by giving thanks
Expressing gratitude can be a big part of Giving Tuesday, and the health benefits of giving thanks are measurable.
In one study, Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami randomly assigned journaling tasks to three separate groups. The first group was to record five events that they were grateful for once a week, the second was to record five weekly hassles, and the third group (the neutral control) recorded five events but were not told what to focus on, just to record five events or things that involved them. Ten weeks later, the grateful group felt 25% happier and more satisfied with their lives. The grateful exercised each week an average of 1.5 more than the group that recorded daily hassles, and they had fewer complaints about their health than the hassled group.
Seems like expressing gratitude increases your desire to move around, which increases your feelings of good health and well-being. It’s a win-win!
4. Connect with your kids
The saying “charity begins at home” rings very true during the holiday season. Kids especially are targeted by advertisements for toys and clothes over the holidays, and the whining for new things can reach a fever pitch by the end of November. Head that off by starting a family discussion about gratitude. Simple things like ending each day with a bedtime conversation about the things you are are grateful for can help kids to recognize even small things that are positive in their life.
Take that another step further and talk about the people who enrich their lives and make their days better. This helps kids move beyond their (developmentally appropriate) self-centeredness out into their community to see how others affect them.
The final step in this conversation is talking about “paying it forward.” Giving thanks for people who help them is great, but how about intentionally seeking out those who can do nothing for them and taking the first step? This can include anything from helping someone who is struggling to carry their groceries to hosting a fundraiser or clothing/food drive for a local family in need.
For all of the talk about the younger generation being isolated by technology, the other side is that they are digital natives, the most connected people in the history of humanity. Help kids to use this connection to do good by promoting Giving Tuesday and urging others to do the same.
How can connecting your kids to charity and gratitude, expressing your own thanks, and spreading the news about Giving Tuesday help with chronic pain? The connections that we build by helping others provide measurable benefit to everyone, including those with chronic pain. Chronic pain can been an isolating condition, and research has shown that the social pain of isolation activates the areas of the brain also stimulated by physical pain. Turns out, giving back and the connections it creates feels good, mentally and physically.
How will you express your gratitude and give back on Giving Tuesday?