In the world of style, naturally there tends to be an emphasis on physical appearance, and on how you present yourself to the world. But that presentation doesn’t stop with your clothing choices – who you are on the inside radiates outward and is just as important a factor in how others perceive you, and more importantly how you feel about yourself. This holiday season, be the best version of you not just by dressing up on the outside, but also by being the best human being you can be on the inside. Here are five simple acts of kindness you can try that will make a huge difference to those around you, and in turn will make you feel great, as well.

1. Volunteer your time. Donating money at the end of the year is a common way to give back, but there are other rewarding ways to help that won’t cost you a penny. Many charities have their busiest season in the winter, and are always looking for volunteers. Outside of official volunteering, you can also reach out and ask if any friends or family members (especially those with small children) need assistance with wrapping gifts, running errands, or getting the house ready for festivities.

2. Practice active empathy. Navigating the maze of family, friends, and coworkers can be tricky, especially at the holidays when a lot of us have social overload. It’s important to remember, therefore, that the holidays can be difficult, stressful, and ever lonely for many people. Instead of being quick to jump in defensively when nerves get frazzled or tempers flare, take a breath, remind yourself that we’re all in the same boat, and actively listen in the way that you would want others to listen to you.

3. Demonstrate gratitude. Being thankful is not just for Thanksgiving – when was the last time you told the people in your life how grateful you are for their presence?  You can also show your gratitude with small gestures, like spending extra time with them or acknowledging them with a gift.

4. Be inclusive. Although the holidays are known as a time of happiness with family and friends, for many people it’s a season of solitude and loneliness. Be aware of who in your workplace or social circle won’t be near family or friends during the holidays, and invite them to join your family for a meal or group activity.

5. Choose your words mindfully. How you speak to people matters. Your words can have a huge influence on how people feel about you, and even on how they feel about themselves. Take a moment or two to think before you speak – if you need to give someone constructive criticism, you can still do it in a way that doesn’t destroy their self-confidence, and you should never miss an opportunity to point out someone’s strengths or praise them for something they’ve done well.

Remember, making a difference doesn’t have to be about grand gestures – even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life, and that’s never more important than it is during the holidays.

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