How Helping Others Helps You: Volunteering

 

volunteer handsMany self-help groups are based around the “helper therapy” principle, such as 'Alcoholics Anonymous'. People within the group sponsor and coach new members in the program to provide support, comfort and guidance. Why? Helpers who become mentors have less of a chance of relapsing themselves.

Further, volunteering boosts your mood.   MRI tests prove that people that volunteer get a “helper’s” high. So “Doing good” does good for your brain too.

When it comes to volunteering, remember to pick something that fits you and your lifestyle. Here are some ideas that have been suggested by Dr Stephen Post:

* Want to start walking, but can’t find the motivation? Contact your local animal shelter and become a dog walker. These pups are cooped up in a tiny space just itching for exercise. It would make their day to have a special long walk with a human friend

* If you like to play cards, maybe you could volunteer to start a poker game at a local nursing home. Don’t be fooled, there are some card sharks with years of experience under their belt looking to win.

* If you like photography, painting, dancing, or writing but haven’t found the time to work on your hobbies. Put your passion for the arts to good use by finding an after school program and become an art mentor.

For other ideas, check out Go Volunteer (www.govolunteer.com.au) or Probono Australia (http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au), these websites help match volunteers with various organisations looking for helping hands.

Volunteering will not cure your depression, but it may help alleviate your symptoms. By focusing your energy and time helping someone else, you may be helping yourself.

Anita