You’ve worked hard to achieve sobriety and have cultivated many methods to support a healthy recovery. If you haven’t considered regular volunteering, consider it another essential tool in your wellness kit. Not only is giving back good for you in numerous ways, but it also provides a wealth of ideas for sober fun. Let’s take a closer look.
How Giving Back Improves Your Health
How, exactly, does volunteerism help you? Harvard Medical School indicates the following benefits:
- “Mentally-stimulating activities, like tutoring or reading, might be helpful to reduce anxiety and improve memory and cognition skills.”
- Volunteers report lower blood pressure than non-volunteers, which helps reduce the chance of severe health conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
- Your health benefits from volunteerism are only effective if you’re truly altruistic. This means the focus is to help others, not just yourself.
HelpGuide notes additional advantages with regular volunteering:
- It’s gratifying to know that your efforts are appreciated, and volunteering can relieve stress.
- “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.”
- It helps you manage anxiety and depression more effectively. Associating with others allows you to add to your support system and opens a door to people you can turn to when you need help.
Mayo Clinic provides more insight into what you stand to gain when you help others:
- People who volunteer “report better physical health than non-volunteers.”
- It reduces depression for people 65 and older.
- Studies indicate that “volunteers with chronic or serious illness experience declines in pain intensity and depression” when they help support other people experiencing chronic pain.
Keep in mind that you have a lot to offer another person or an organization. This sense of purpose is essential to your well-being, whether you experience just one, a few, or all the above benefits.
Three Quick Tips to Start Volunteering
To make a positive impact, it’s really easy to get started: just think about what matters to you and see if there’s a way you can help. Here are a few more guidelines.
Identify your interests and skills
Start by considering your passions, interests, and skills. What causes or activities resonate with you? Whether it’s working with children, helping individuals in need, supporting animals, working within the recovery community, or contributing to environmental conservation, choosing a cause you care about makes your volunteering experience more fulfilling. Also, think about the skills you possess—such as teaching, communication, hands-on activities, or event planning—that could be valuable to an organization.
However, you don’t always need a certain skill set to contribute your time and energy. Working a shift at an information booth at a city festival, passing out water during a 5K race, compiling meal kits for unhoused people, participating in a community cleanup—these are just a few examples of when nonprofits are simply in need of eager helping hands.
Research and contact organizations
Once you’ve identified your interests, research local organizations or nonprofits that align with them. Use online platforms like VolunteerMatch, Idealist, United Ways of Texas, or local community websites to find opportunities. Reach out to area nonprofits and community agencies to inquire about volunteering roles, their requirements, and the time commitment involved.
You might also want to become more active in the recovery community by guiding others on their sobriety journey. Maybe you’d like to lead a 12-Step support group, become a sponsor, or contribute your time to a sober living house or at-risk adolescent center.
Start small and gradually increase commitment
When starting out, it’s a good idea to begin with a smaller time commitment. This allows you to get a feel for the organization, the work they do, and whether the role aligns with your expectations. Some organizations might have specific orientations or training sessions for new volunteers, so be prepared to attend these. Overall, you want to be realistic about the time you can reasonably provide.
As you become more comfortable and connected, you can gradually increase your involvement. This approach helps prevent burnout and ensures that your volunteering experience remains enjoyable and sustainable.
Out-of-the-Box Thinking at Great Oaks
Great Oaks Recovery Center outside of Houston is an accredited facility that provides individuals with critical tools for whole-person wellness. It’s our mission to improve the lives we touch. In turn, this allows you to do the same for others. If you or a loved one is ready for a new type of healing approach, please reach out.