19 Dec Holiday Volunteering: Give Back & Receive
Alleviate the depression, anxiety, or perfectionism that may visit this holiday season by volunteering. Get out of our head (or bed) and get into the community. Volunteering offers an opportunity to take a break from holiday “shoulds” such as, “I should bake cookies with the kids!” or “I should enjoy everyone in my family,” or “I should be happy.”
The holidays bring up different things for each of us. From, “This is my favorite time of year and I can’t wait to decorate 5 trees!” to “I feel so sad and depressed that I can hardly get dressed each morning.” In between these 2 extremes there’s stress about getting the right gifts, traveling long distances to see family, or dreading the company holiday party.
Gifts of Volunteering
Volunteering is a way to give back in a non-complicated way. Network for Good calls volunteering a way to give voice to your heart. I love that wording. Volunteers contribute the resource of time and energy to organizations and people who need it.
You may be thinking that adding one more thing to your list is not helpful. But wait…you get something valuable back! Research has found that volunteers report lower levels of depression, anxiety, and enhanced life satisfaction, and well-being. In fact, volunteers over 50 years of age report greater life satisfaction and better physical health than do non-volunteers.
During my years working at Habitat for Humanity-DeKalb, I would often hear people that I thanked for volunteering say, “No, thank you, the experience was amazing. I feel so good.” Frequently, people offered feedback that feeling appreciated was an unexpected gift.
Plus, volunteering is a way to feel a connection to others that may be lacking. It’s a positive 1st step in reaching out to the world if you have been experiencing painful isolation. You can engage in conversation that is welcomed and appreciated.
Where to Volunteer
This sounds like a great idea, but where do I go? First, think about causes you care about. Second, research organizations that do the thing you care about and third, check out their volunteer opportunities. Maybe you aren’t sure or just want to search in one area, check out the links below.
Your community is in need of your unique gifts. You give and you receive with volunteering. A total win-win. It can be a little trickier with family, friends, and co-workers. 😉
All the best to you this holiday season!
Kate Murphy, LMSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Berkeley Lake, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.