In this article: How helping others can help you | Volunteering, its impact on mental health | And how to find volunteering opportunities
In recent times, awareness about mental health is improving, which is a key to overall well being. And a lot of attention is given to self-care, where you take time out to focus and take care of yourself.
But there is another way to promote mental health which has nothing to do with focusing on yourself – Volunteering, where your focus is on the larger community and not just yourself and your close friends or family.
Shift Your Focus For Improved Mental Health
If you look at it, we are all a tad too focused on ourselves, in fact, though not typically indulging in self-care. Instead, we chase goals for ourselves and our family, push ourselves with no end in sight as we have one important thing to do after another.
This is where volunteering, which has nothing to do with your “self”, can be the “thing” we all need to pause, take a look around away from our immediate circle, away from our own problems and challenges and gain some perspective.
Benefits Of Volunteering
Volunteering can help reduce the risk of isolation. Typically, a certain cross-section of people tends to be at risk of becoming socially isolated, such as retired older adults. For such people, volunteering can help be a part of a larger society again. It also gives them a sense of purpose as they know there are so many people out there who truly need them.
The same can apply to young mothers/fathers who take up the role of caregiving and spend significant amount of their time at home. Though it might be tough for those with with infants and toddlers, volunteering could be easier for those with school-going children.
So, it makes sense for both categories of people to take up voluntary work most suitable for their given circumstances.
Make new friends who are like-minded while serving the community!
Many non-profit organisations have in fact started offering volunteering opportunities over zoom during this pandemic period so that not only do their pool of volunteers remains intact, but no one feels isolated as the pandemic rages on.
But what about those who work and do not fall under any of the above categories?
Volunteering can give a sense of giving, which would make you inherently happy. Besides, you will get acknowledgement and appreciation for the work you do.
Moreover, we tend to do things very well in a non-competitive environment. So, it brings immense joy. And, you get to do things differently than your typical working day or holiday.
However, with this category of people who has a committed work schedule, when it comes to volunteering, the usual obstacle is this thought process; “I am working, I don’t have the time!”
Making Time For Volunteering Is Worth It
Well, in this case, all you need to do is to make time and try it a couple of times; once it becomes a routine activity, you can fit it into your schedule as you do with other engagements. Also, once you actually feel the difference you are making to yourself and others through volunteering, you will stick with it.
The same applies to families too. It might be tough to find time and tag your kids along and get them involved in community service. But, once you try and do it, you will be instilling a life lesson for them to be involved more with the community when they become adults.
How Do I Know About Volunteering Opportunities?
There are so many ways to volunteer. You can start by looking out for opportunities available so that you can find something that suits you best.
How to find volunteering opportunities available?
You can simply google for “volunteering opportunities near me” to find the list of options available.
Or, if you have a platform similar to https://www.giving.sg/ available in your country/region, it will be an excellent way to go about it. You will then notice volunteering is not restricted to giving your time to a soup kitchen but a whole lot more (by the way, you will find a soup kitchen option will also be there!)
Once you find the types of volunteer work available out there, you can find one that would suit you well.
Choose The One That Suits Your Time And Skills
If there is a cause you can identify better with, you can choose to volunteer in an organisation serving the cause. For instance, you feel strongly about preserving the environment; you can look at organisations involved in this cause.
Let’s go with an example using giving.sg platform again, with this forest clean-up activity, https://www.volunteer.gov.sg/volunteer/opportunity/details/?id=9c715923-4e8d-eb11-a9f1-91769ab4e5b4
Or, if you are not particular about what you do as long as you are being helpful, you can also consider skills-based volunteering and serve any organisation that needs such help. For example, https://www.giving.sg/volunteer-event?event_activity_id=56993528. This one requires you to teach basic computer skills.
If you wish to volunteer with your family, you can specifically look for options that are inherently family-friendly. For example, some organisations deliver groceries for underprivileged families or seniors. You can join such an organisation and easily make it a family activity to go around giving out the supplies.
Here is an example: https://www.giving.sg/volunteer-event?event_activity_id=61401699
Similarly, seniors can also look for options like the below where one gets to be around children while making a difference in those children’s lives, https://www.giving.sg/volunteer-event?event_activity_id=61352730
And it need not be a regular commitment. You can keep it light by volunteering on an Adhoc basis too!
Volunteering brings in a sense of belonging. After all, humans are social animals, and being a part of a larger community helps us thrive in every way. Hence, it is immensely beneficial for your overall well-being. So, explore volunteering options near you, give back to society, and discover the joy of giving!