Volunteering

Looking for a constructive way to manage your stress? Become a volunteer. Studies on altruism have shown that people who volunteer experience benefits such as:

  • enhanced meaning and purpose
  • a more active lifestyle
  • positive emotions, such as kindness, in place of harmful, negative emotional states

Some studies even suggest that altruistic behavior may suppress disease activity and activate the body’s immune response. That sounds like an all-around win-win—so what are you waiting for?

Getting Started

Find a local or national organization in need of volunteers. Many websites, like Idealist and VolunteerMatch, connect you to great volunteering opportunities in your neighborhood and abroad. Or, go local by inquiring with non-profits in your community.

Sticking with It

Signing up to volunteer is the easy part. Sticking to your volunteering obligations is another story. While you may have good intentions, the realities of life can make it hard to fit volunteering into your schedule. Everyday obligations like work and parenting can easily off-track altruistic motivations.

So, how can you find the time to fulfill your responsibilities while also giving back to others? Consider the following tips to accommodate even the busiest schedule and ensure that your experience is a positive one.

Bring Your Children

If you’re a full-time parent, you’ll need to become more creative in how you’re able to give back. Many volunteer positions are kid-friendly, which can be helpful if you stay at home with your children or are looking for a weekend activity to do together. Volunteering with your children is a great way to spend quality time together while teaching them the value and importance of helping others.

Volunteer Virtually

As the name implies, virtual volunteering is typically done from a home computer or over the phone. This is the perfect set-up if you’re always on the go or only have a free hour in the evening after your kids are asleep. Visit the virtual volunteering section on Volunteer Match to find the right fit for you.

Avoid Overcommitting

Although you may initially think you can fit several volunteering hours into your schedule, you may soon discover otherwise. Overcommitting to the cause is a common volunteering pitfall that often leads to guilt.

To avoid this situation, underestimate the amount of time you can give back. You can always increase your volunteering duties once you get a feel for balancing your time. You can also choose an organization that offers drop-in volunteering. This allows you to volunteer as your schedule allows, rather than committing to a specific number of hours.

Do What You Love

Although you may love the idea of volunteering, your enthusiasm won’t last if you sign up for projects that don’t interest you. You’re more likely to stick with something you care about.

Make a list of issues you want to learn more about, and a list of things you wish you had more time to do. Then find a way to volunteer that combines the two. For example, you can teach soccer to underprivileged kids.

Volunteer with Friends

Volunteering with friends will reinforce your commitment to the cause. It helps to have someone who will hold you accountable and will give you that extra push when you need it. Volunteering with friends is a great experience to share that will help you bond in a different way. A collective excitement for the cause may encourage you to volunteer more.   

There are plenty of opportunities for volunteering. By following these easy tips, you can fit volunteering into your busy schedule and remain committed. Help those in need while reaping the health benefits of altruism—volunteer today!