Giving Tuesday: Happiness Through Volunteerism
It’s a time to continue reflection of what we are thankful for in our lives and employ positive action. There are so many charities to support and ways to donate money, it’s often hard to choose just one. Financial contributions are key to keeping great causes moving forward and making a difference but what if there was something more emotionally rewarding than simply clicking the “donate now” button. This Giving Tuesday, consider volunteerism.
Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. Volunteering and helping others can help you reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help others those in need and improve your health and happiness.
Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person. Working animals has also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
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 provides a sense of purpose. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life.
- Contact a tree farm about donating Christmas trees to nursing homes, hospitals, or to families who can’t afford to buy their own
- Collect unused makeup and perfume to donate to a center for abused women
- Send cards to soldiers serving overseas
- Donate blood
- Donate your old clothes
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food bank
- Help organize and sort donations at a homeless shelter
- Make “care kits” with shampoo, toothbrushes, combs, etc. to donate to homeless shelters
- Organize a winter clothes drive to collect coats, hats, scarves, and gloves to be donated
- Clean up a local park
- Organize a carpool to reduce car emissions
- Participate in the cleanup of a local river, pond, or lake
- Collect pet supplies to donate to an animal shelter
- Sign up to foster animals that shelters don’t have space for
- Read to residents at a nursing home
- Make birthday cards for the elderly
- Donate and decorate a Christmas tree at a nursing home
- Ask residents of a retirement home to tell you about their lives
- Rake leaves, shovel snow, or wash windows for a senior citizen
- Donate stuffed animals to children in hospitals
- Collect baby clothes and supplies to donate to new parents in need or to a shelter
- Donate used children’s books to a school library
- Tutor children during or after school
- Collect used sports equipment to donate to families and after-school programs
- Join a youth mentoring program like Big Brothers/Big Sisters