Be a Summer Volunteer — It’s Good for You!

Elizabeth Vaughan

It’s hard to avoid the myriad messages we receive every day about managing our stress levels. Take fish oil, get more quality sleep, mindful meditation… it’s enough to make your head swim.

More than ever, we are tasked with finding small opportunities throughout the day to practice self-care. These little breaks form habits rooted in mindfulness that can benefit you for a lifetime. Closing your eyes and focusing only on your breathing for five minutes brings your awareness within, creating space for you to live “in the moment” for as long as you remain connected with every exhalation and inhalation. Try it and see how quickly your mind wanders!

Yoga, breath work, and long periods of meditative stillness aren’t for everyone, of course. But as we age, it’s up to us to see that we find our own formula for both mental and physical balance. These “new age” techniques may not appeal to you, but a stroll down to the park or meeting a close friend for coffee can have the same impact. In fact, topping the list of health-improving activities?

…That’s right! Volunteering is good for your health and wellbeing.

Volunteering can negate the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. Meaningful connection to another person combats negative emotions, even if the encounter is a brief one.

Volunteering combats depression. Spending an hour in service of another can give you a boost that lasts all day. It also refocuses your thoughts on other people, which works!

Volunteering makes you happy. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.

Volunteering increases self-confidence. Your role as a volunteer gives you a sense of pride and identity. This translates to boosting self-esteem and confidence.

Volunteering provides a sense of purpose. Getting older comes with loss. As we lose friends and family, it’s important to create new relationships and continue to serve.

Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Volunteers have a lower mortality rate than non-volunteers, according to studies. Volunteering requires physical activity, but when you’re serving others, it often doesn’t even feel like you are exercising!

In short, volunteering is a win-win-win proposition. Summer is coming, and Neighbors Who Care is counting on Splash readers to register and attend an orientation class before you leave for summer travel. We have over 650 clients depending on NWC, yet fully half of our volunteer army will be traveling out of state by May! Former volunteers, new volunteers… we need our community to rally in April and May so we can serve all of our neighbors in need without turning anyone away. Just an hour or two from you makes all the difference. And it may even keep the doctor away!

Help NWC this summer and register for orientation at 480-895-7133. Thank you for 25 years of community support and love!