Why Donating Free Time Is Good For You

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Unemployed? Volunteer your way out of the depression.

The following post comes from Eric Mohrman at partner site The Dollar Stretcher.

When a financially comfortable lifestyle comes to a halt due to job loss, the unwelcome abundance of free time – and decrease in income – can lead to negative emotions. Getting involved with one or more organizations can make your life better. Volunteering is a way to stay actively involved in your community, have some unexpected fun, and make new friendships.

In the words of Dr. Louise Hart, “Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness.” Without a job, excess free time can feel like a burden. Committing a portion of that free time to helping others gives you purpose and can boost your self-esteem.

An extended period of unemployment can take its toll on you in various ways. You may become less interested in physical activity. Socializing may be an activity you seek to avoid or feel that you can’t afford to engage in. As a volunteer, agreeing to be present at a specific time to offer services gives you a reason to venture out of the house. Other than the cost of gas to get you where you’re going, volunteering is free.

There are numerous volunteer opportunities to help you stay physically active while you’re looking for new employment. According to the information complied in a report entitled The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review Of Recent Research, “Volunteering and physical well-being are part of a positive reinforcing cycle.”

Just a few examples of volunteer options that involve physical activity are helping with a youth sports team, volunteering at competitions, and assisting disabled youth with sports related events.

Volunteering at a “meet and greet” animal adoption fair or working at a festival booth for a specific charity gives you an opportunity to converse and socialize with numerous people. There’s always a possibility that you will discover a lead to an employment opportunity while talking with others at these events. You will certainly get a reprieve from dwelling on your personal situation while in the midst of a festive atmosphere and while conversing with a steady flow of people passing by.

Volunteering has many emotional benefits. If you do something that gets you directly involved with those you are helping, like working in a soup kitchen, handing out bags of pantry staples, or building a wheelchair ramp, you will instantly be rewarded. Your spirits will be lifted when you see the smile and feel the gratitude of the person you helped.

Some volunteer activity involves helping those you will never actually come in contact with. You may only see pictures of children or adults who have benefited from your work or you read notes of thanks that have been sent to the organization. But you’ll still be uplifted, knowing you have played a part in making a positive difference in someone’s life.

Becoming reclusive during financially trying times is not physically, mentally, or emotionally healthy. Joining with other volunteers to improve the quality of life for others can also make your life better. New friendships develop when people unite for a common cause. You will have the opportunity to form friendships with people you would probably have never met if you hadn’t joined them in a volunteer effort.

Volunteering may lead to the discovery of new interests that will cause you to redirect your job search. You may uncover passions that have gotten suppressed due to a hectic lifestyle. You may discover new talents you never imagined having. Sometimes, you will find that what appeared to be an unfortunate situation is actually an opportunity for change that will have long-term positive effects on your life and on your family.

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Stacy Johnson

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