Updated: Nov 14, 2018
I have always volunteered for projects in the past, but when my son got accepted into the National Honor Society in Middle School, I really learned what it meant to really donate your time.
As he needed service hours, we joined the Ft Lauderdale Beach Sweep. It is held on the second Saturday of the month. Getting up to be there at the crack of dawn was not easy for either of us, to say the least, as neither of us are 'early birds'. But I noticed that afterward, we both had a very satisfying sense of accomplishment.
Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health. It helps counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety. I know just being at the beach and hearing the sound of the gulls and the waves puts me in a more relaxed mood. The social aspects of helping and working with other can have a huge effect on your overall psychological well being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person.
Volunteering combats depression by keeping you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system. Volunteering makes you happy! 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.
Volunteering increases self confidence. You are doing something good for others and the community, which gives you a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity and the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
Volunteering provides a sense of purpose. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and directions in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life!
Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. It's hard walking up and down a beach for 3 hours on the calves!! Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate that those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.
I happen to love the personal time that I get with my son. Usually about half way through our time there, we sit and take a water break. It is during this time that we have some of our deeper conversations about our respective future dreams and aspirations.
(It also has given me another opportunity to look for sea glass....shhhh ;)
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