Our Tip of the Month: The “post-holiday blues” is a common phenomenon. Although many people feel relieved that the hustle and bustle is over, the let-down is often very hard for those dealing with grief. Volunteering is great way to ease feelings of sadness by focusing on the needs of others rather than your own pain.
How-to Suggestion: Volunteer opportunities are plentiful, if you know where to look. Most not-for-profit agencies welcome volunteers. What’s more, you can usually choose the work you do. For some people, that’s filing papers. For others it’s coaching a children’s basketball team.
There are several ways to find volunteer opportunities. One is to approach an agency that interests you to see if they hire volunteers. If it doesn’t, try to think outside the box. For example, if the local animal shelter isn’t taking on new volunteers, try a veterinarian’s office or Pets for Life. If you’re still stuck, call your local Goodwill or United Way. They usually have lists of agencies that are looking for volunteers.
Volunteering doesn’t just help others, it offers you health benefits too. Studies show that it can ease depression, improve brain function and lead to a longer life. It also deepens your ties to the community and provides a chance to make new friends. Lastly, volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn new skills, which improves self-esteem.
If the idea of being a volunteer makes you uneasy, start out slowly. Even just one or two days a month is fine. You can increase your commitment over time. Most likely, the many benefits you get from volunteering will soon have you wanting to do more.