Last week we discussed the value of volunteering as a way to break out of the post-holiday blues. January’s a rough time: Snow is falling, we are in the middle of yet another cold snap, and after long breaks, everyone is finally back to the working grind. On top of everything, your New Years resolutions for 2014 may already be faltering!
This week, we’d like to talk more about how volunteering can help you achieve your goals. Some of the most popular resolutions every year are ones involving personal and emotional wellness: Stress reduction, increasing overall happiness, spending more time away from the computer and with friends or colleagues, or just enjoying life more. As it happens, you’ll find that the psychological and emotional effects of volunteering will not only energize you through the coldest months of Fairfield County, but also encourage you to keep your resolutions.
It’s no secret that volunteering makes you happy. If your resolution is to be happy, the best place to start is
with an activity that just makes you feel good, and volunteering does that in a
snap! The instantaneous nature by which volunteers see their work in action
every day (we would know) contributes to a sense of happiness. Seeing a housing
project come together or the results of a successful donation drive is
difficult to match when it comes to to producing a feeling of happiness; in
turn, the happiness from your volunteering can affect your personal and
On a similar note, many people resolve to have a greater sense of
fulfillment in work that they do. We can also vouch for how volunteering for a
nonprofit helps you go into your office every day knowing the mission of the
organization - educate kids, feed the hungry, or assist seniors - and how
everything you do contributes to that mission. We’re still dispelling the all
too common myth that volunteering is a thankless job - every agency we work
with in Fairfield County from Domus to Family Centers will tell you that
volunteers are an essential part of what they do.
The common thread of volunteering making you happy also applies to
the popular resolution to simply get out more and spend more time with friends.
Even when you’re at a desk, you’re at an office surrounded by equally
enthusiastic volunteers and motivated agency employees. Social opportunities
are everywhere at volunteer agencies: Potlucks, picnics, and happy hours are
everywhere. The only way to avoid working towards a resolution to have a more
active social life would be to sit in your car and work from the parking lot!
What if your resolution is better time management? In an
interesting twist, studies have shown that the best way to feel like you have
more time is to give some of it away by volunteering. Psychologically, people value the time more that
they have after volunteering in a charitable environment. A more pragmatic
theory is that people simply automatically develop time management skills after
spending two hours out of their busy days.
Lots of people resolve to volunteer, but it doesn’t have to exist in a separate silo from your other resolutions for 2014. Volunteering’s myriad benefits can actually be the driver that helps you stick to resolutions through winter storms and cold snaps by keeping a smile on your face and a spring in your step.