16 ways to feel happier in an hour or less

If the pressures of school and life have you feeling down, there’s no better pick-me-up than serving others. Volunteering doesn’t just take your mind off your worries. Doing good for others just feels good.

While volunteering can be a formal commitment you make to an existing organization, it can also simply be a promise you make to yourself to help someone in need. So if you think you don’t have time to volunteer, here are 16 quick ways to brighten your day—and someone else’s—in one hour or less.

#1 Serve. Find a local shelter or meal program and take an hour to help serve hungry people.

#2 Staff. Speaking of food, local pantries are often looking for volunteers to sort food, stock shelves or fill orders for clients.

#3 Give. Don’t have time to organize a blood drive? Volunteer at one instead. Can’t find any upcoming blood drives? Donate blood on your own.

#4 Donate. Gather clothing in good condition that you won’t wear again or high-quality toys from your childhood and donate them to an organization that can put them to good use.

#5 Create. Assemble a group of friends and make holiday cards and surprises for kids in the hospital. Think Valentine cards in February, fun-filled Easter eggs in the spring, trick-or-treat prizes in the fall or Christmas trinkets in the winter. Take another hour to distribute them.

#6 Yardwork. Help out an elderly neighbor by raking their leaves, shoveling their snow or mowing their lawn.

#7 Prepare. Keep a handful of granola bars on hand for times you come upon someone with a sign indicating they’re hungry.

#8 Write. In less than 30 minutes, you can write a personal letter to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces to express gratitude for the work they’re doing. Not sure where to send it? Google will give you a long list of options.

#9 Share. Whether it’s a vending machine, a parking meter or a coffee shop drive-thru, leave behind a couple extra dollars for the next person in line.

#10 Decorate. Contact a local elder-care facility to see if you can decorate one of its common spaces for an upcoming holiday.

#11 Weed. Volunteer at a local community garden during the growing season. You can clean a big area in one hour.

#12 Beautify. Grab a few friends and pick up debris from a local park.

#13 Call. Pick up your phone and call an elderly neighbor. Ask if they need anything and offer to take them to run errands.

#14 Craft. Make a tie blanket for a veteran or a sock-bone pet toy for dogs at a local shelter.

#15 Cook. Know a family that just lost a loved one? Or a family experiencing serious illness? Make and deliver a home-cooked meal to them.

#16 Teach. Spend an hour at a senior center to help people who struggle with technology. Help residents set up Facebook pages or Instagram accounts and teach them to use Skype to stay in better touch with family.


Character Lives