How doing one hour of good (or more!) can support your mental health.
Benefits of giving back.
Volunteering can be great opportunity for many individuals who feel like they want to give back to their community or have something to offer. However it has been proven to have many benefits not just to the recipients of the services, but also for those who donate their time and energy. Volunteering has several benefits that many would not even consider. Here are a few benefits of community service that often are overlooked.
1. It improves our health.
Volunteering supports both our physical health as well as our psychological well-being as well as our cognitive health. It has also been linked to lower blood pressure.
2. Volunteering helps us meet new people and make social connections.
Since COVID, many individuals feels more socially isolated and are looking to connect with people who have shared interests and values. Volunteering can often provide this opportunity to meet and engage with new people.
3. Community service provides us the opportunity to use our expertise and skills to support other.
Have a knack for construction or fixing things? Habitat for Humanity could use your skills. Great with numbers and accounting? Seniors or those who need assistance with taxes would love the help. Got a green thumb? Find a community garden to share your skills with. Many of think that when something is "easy" for us we forget that there are many people who can benefit from that knowledge or expertise.
4. We can learn new skills ourselves.
Spending time in a new environment can often give us an opportunity to learn new skills or at least a different way to do things. Being willing to try new experiences and being open to new opportunities, can help us be life long learners and enrich our own lives.
5. It's an opportunity to have fun!
Volunteering is fun!! Finding a community service opportunity that is aligned with your interests and values is often enjoyable and fun. It's a great way to socialize and connect with people while also giving back to your community or a cause that is important to you. Often these opportunities can fill us with a sense of purpose and joy which makes the experience even more enjoyable.
I just don't have time to volunteer.
That's ok! Volunteering is not meant to cause more stress or anxiety. Many of us have lives that are overflowing and very hectic. However even if volunteering isn't something you can do a regular basis, there are many one-time events that need volunteers. Have a local 5k or marathon in your community? As a runner, I am always grateful to the volunteers who pass out water at the races I've done. Able to buy and wrap presents during the holidays? Many organizations are looking for donations during the holiday season. Able to write a letter or make a get-well card for veteran who's admitted to the hospital? I know of a VA hospital that has been collecting get-well cards for veterans since COVID started. There are many ways to volunteer and dedicate just one hour of your time to give back.
Where can I find volunteer opportunities?
One of the best ways to find volunteer opportunities is to reach out to local non-profit organizations and ask if they need support. Many organizations receive a bulk of their support through volunteers. There are also websites dedicated to announcing volunteer opportunities. Idealist.org and Volunteermatch.org are a couple websites that allow you to customize your search and identify volunteer opportunities in your community (or remotely) that are in your area of interest.
Volunteering can be a very fulfilling experience that benefits those who give their time and energy, as well as those who receive the support. Interesting in clarifying your values and finding ways to more intentionally integrate them into your life, contact Kristin to learn more.
***The ideas, concepts, and opinions expressed in all Living Openhearted posts are intended to be used for educational purposes only. The author and publisher are not rendering medical advice of any kind, nor are intended to replace medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury. Authors and publisher claim no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material.