The Power of Volunteering - Day 9 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH
From Friday 19th January, everyday for 40 days, I will be sharing something each day that has either (1) changed my way of thinking or perspective, (2) helped me get through a challenging period of transition, change or growth, or (3) changed my life for the better. I've called it '40 Days of Growth'. I'd love it if you followed along with me on this journey - contributing what has also helped you to learn, grow and change. And, if I can support you on your own learning journey, please do let me know :)
Please note that these next few posts will be shorter as I am preparing these posts before heading away to help run the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards programme from Tuesday until Sunday.
Day 9 of 40 DAYS OF GROWTH
The Power of Volunteering
Do you ever have days when you're feeling really bad, your energy is low and you're feeling a bit overwhelmed or sad about what's going on in your life? But then, on that same day you do something for someone else, for example - small things like washing someone else's dishes, helping that lost-looking-tourist on the street find where they're going, pat someone else's dog (guilty!), talk with a friend who's having a difficult time for an hour on the phone...and you suddenly feel a bit better about yourself, about life... and things look a little brighter and not so hopeless or overwhelming?
Why volunteering is one of the best 'medicines'
There's many reasons why doing things for others is one of the best 'medicines' for when we're having a bit of a shit time. Try some of these on for size:
- Volunteering often puts you in touch with other humans (or animals - good ol' SPCA and Cat Protection Leagues, hello!). We're relational beings, so being in contact with others is beneficial for our wellbeing.
- Helping others makes us feel good! It makes us feel good about ourselves.
- Taking your attention away from your own problems and focusing on the experiences of others takes you 'out of your head'. It gives you a wider sense of PERSPECTIVE. If you're living in a Western country, have got a roof over your head, have food to put on the table, have people that love and care about you and are educated, you're living a privileged life. That's perspective. (Sometimes when I'm having a 'wah moment' about the Wellington weather, I like to catch myself and laugh at myself because I'm complaining about something I can't control and that, really, is not a major thing to complain about in the scheme of things).
- Volunteering is a great way to meet people that care about a similar cause
- It's also an excellent way to enhance your skillset and your networks. My experiences volunteering have been some of my best learning experiences! Volunteering with Camp Quality as a companion and having 24/7 care of a 9 year old living with cancer for 5 days taught me to respect even more how hard parents work, especially with an ill child. Going through YouthLine's volunteer phone counselling training gave me counselling skills that I would've had to pay thousands of dollars for otherwise. Perhaps my favourite volunteer experience that has given me experiences I wouldn't have otherwise received in 5+ years of working is helping to organise and run the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) programme - gaining coaching and facilitation experience, working with 18-24 year olds on a leadership development programme and having a crazy amount of fun with my fellow organising team members! Have I ever mentioned how much FUN volunteering can be??!
Need more reasons?
If you work at the SPCA, with animals, you get to take selfies with animals. Isn't that what everyone wants these days? :)
A fun way to volunteer
An ex-RYLA attendee, with three of her inspiring friends started an FUN online application platform called 'Collaborate' that matches volunteer organisations with people wanting to volunteer. Check out their awesome work!
Questions for you
Have you had similar experiences of being in a low state but then feeling more recharged from helping others? What other strategies have worked for you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below!