Volunteering – Especially During the Holidays

12
Dec
2013

 Volunteering-holiday-stress

Volunteering is a good thing to do for your community, but did you ever stop to think that it may help reduce stress?  We didn’t talk about this the other evening during our Beat Holiday Stress {and the blues} with Essential Oils online class, but it would have totally fit into the material.

All kinds of evidence points to the fact that working as a volunteer reduces stress levels. In fact, when people take on volunteer positions, their stress levels are no longer detectible through a stress monitor. A 1990 study showed that people who volunteered at least 40 hours a week actually lived longer!  Now, I cannot image volunteering 40 hours a week, but any amount I am sure will benefit you and your family.

So why not give volunteering a try, especially during the holidays.  It may seem like you don’t have time in your schedule to make it happen, but perhaps blocking out the time will create an opportunity to give back but also, sneak a little return on yourself in the way of beating stress and combating the blues.

Here are some ways that volunteering can help you reduce stress and beat the holiday blues

Getting Your Mind Off Your Stress

Sometimes, the best way to get stress reduced is to put it on the back burner. That doesn’t mean you ignore things that really need your attention, or that you hide your head in the sand, so to speak. It just means that you take some time to think about something besides your stressful schedule, situation, home life, workplace, or whatever it is that’s making you tense and anxious. Volunteering causes you to focus on what you are doing right now, taking your mind off of your troubles for a bit.  It really gives you a break from your normal everyday routine.

Puts Things in Perspective

Another aspect of volunteering is that you see the situations of others – and those situations are often much more dire than yours. It can be humbling to see people who are struggling with things that you can’t even imagine dealing with on a daily basis, yet they are moving forward with their lives. It really puts your own stress in perspective, and may foster a sense of gratitude.  This has been recorded to help with depression as well, and I know I have personally experienced it myself.  When I give my time to others, the focus is taken off me and I am reminded of the good I have, even in the midst of certain trials and frustrations.

A Sense of Purpose and Meaning

One of the things that stress tends to bring is a sense of meaninglessness, or the feeling that you have no clear purpose – you’re just surviving each day long enough to spin your wheels. Becoming depressed will even dig you further into a hole with more feelings of despair.  Volunteering can break that cycle, infusing your life with meaning and definite purpose. When you have a sense of personal meaning, stressors seem to “roll off” more easily and be more manageable.

Making a Difference

Another of life’s stressful things is the sense that nothing you do matters or gets noticed. But when you volunteer, you matter very much, and it allows you to make a difference in an area that you’re passionate about. It may be animal welfare or elder care, but if it matters to you, you’ll matter to them.  Pick an organization that is close to your heart and give back.

Connections

Stress can make you feel isolated and alone in your struggles. Volunteering counteracts that by connecting you to people with similar interests and concerns. And if you and a friend or two take on volunteering together, it can be a lot of fun!  This will also keep you from feeling isolated, but can contribute to feelings of depression and the blues.

The Christmas season is the perfect time to set aside some time to either begin volunteering or discuss with your family what you could do shortly after the New Year.  What a wonderful way to share God’s grace on your life with others and gig elf your time and talents.

Where is your heart calling you to volunteer?

 
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Comments

  1. With little kids the past few years, I’ve really struggled in getting outside my home to help the community. But our church puts on a dinner for moms and I’ve taken my kids shopping for food to give for their food baskets. It’s a small thing, but it’s something. I need to continue to look for ways my kids can serve. I don’t want them to be selfish, but giving.

  2. I love that – you take what you can do and still push ahead. It would be really easy to use an excuse as your kids are too small. Great job being creative and persistent!

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