Christmas is about family, baby Jesus, turkey and curling up around the fire to watch your favorite reruns on Netflix. It isn’t the time of year to rush around offering your volunteering services to the Humane Society or the Seniors Home so you can put in your time before the end of the year.
Volunteering is not a “one time” event that you add to your schedule at Christmas, but rather a way of life. It is spontaneous acts of kindness like helping an elderly person push their shopping cart in a heavy snowfall, or assisting a stranded motorist, it could even be a passing smile.
Volunteering is is the part we play in making the world a better place. Make a mental note and challenge yourself to do one act of service everyday: compliment someone, drop off a bag of rice at the Food Bank, bring cookies to an elderly person, buy the person behind you at Starbucks a cup of coffee. Gone are the days where volunteering had the stigma of being time consuming and for ‘people with big hearts’ —it’s for everyone, everyday! If you truly don’t have any spare time, it takes minutes to go online and donate to organisations that have the time to be there in person. Volunteering doesn’t have to look the same for every person.
So, why volunteer at all? Research shows that when you volunteer you reshape your own life and become a happier person. Volunteering has been shown to reduce stress and stress-related symptoms (such as anxiety, sleep disorders and depression) that we all know lead to more serious illness down the road such as heart disease and cancer. On top of that, in an era in which we constantly are on social media but feel more alone than ever, volunteering creates real-life encounters and builds true relationships.
You will find community and contacts that you will have relationships with for the rest of your life. Finally, confidence and self-esteem are two reported side effects of volunteering. In the end, we cannot put a dollar value on giving time or money. It is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things to make the world a better place.