Volunteering – Especially During the Holidays

12
Dec
2013

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Volunteering is a good thing to do for your community, but did you ever stop to think that it may help reduce stress?  We didn’t talk about this the other evening during our Beat Holiday Stress {and the blues} with Essential Oils online class, but it would have totally fit into the material.

All kinds of evidence points to the fact that working as a volunteer reduces stress levels. In fact, when people take on volunteer positions, their stress levels are no longer detectible through a stress monitor. A 1990 study showed that people who volunteered at least 40 hours a week actually lived longer!  Now, I cannot image volunteering 40 hours a week, but any amount I am sure will benefit you and your family.

So why not give volunteering a try, especially during the holidays.  It may seem like you don’t have time in your schedule to make it happen, but perhaps blocking out the time will create an opportunity to give back but also, sneak a little return on yourself in the way of beating stress and combating the blues.

Here are some ways that volunteering can help you reduce stress and beat the holiday blues

Getting Your Mind Off Your Stress

Sometimes, the best way to get stress reduced is to put it on the back burner. That doesn’t mean you ignore things that really need your attention, or that you hide your head in the sand, so to speak. It just means that you take some time to think about something besides your stressful schedule, situation, home life, workplace, or whatever it is that’s making you tense and anxious. Volunteering causes you to focus on what you are doing right now, taking your mind off of your troubles for a bit.  It really gives you a break from your normal everyday routine.

Puts Things in Perspective

Another aspect of volunteering is that you see the situations of others – and those situations are often much more dire than yours. It can be humbling to see people who are struggling with things that you can’t even imagine dealing with on a daily basis, yet they are moving forward with their lives. It really puts your own stress in perspective, and may foster a sense of gratitude.  This has been recorded to help with depression as well, and I know I have personally experienced it myself.  When I give my time to others, the focus is taken off me and I am reminded of the good I have, even in the midst of certain trials and frustrations.

A Sense of Purpose and Meaning

One of the things that stress tends to bring is a sense of meaninglessness, or the feeling that you have no clear purpose – you’re just surviving each day long enough to spin your wheels. Becoming depressed will even dig you further into a hole with more feelings of despair.  Volunteering can break that cycle, infusing your life with meaning and definite purpose. When you have a sense of personal meaning, stressors seem to “roll off” more easily and be more manageable.

Making a Difference

Another of life’s stressful things is the sense that nothing you do matters or gets noticed. But when you volunteer, you matter very much, and it allows you to make a difference in an area that you’re passionate about. It may be animal welfare or elder care, but if it matters to you, you’ll matter to them.  Pick an organization that is close to your heart and give back.

Connections

Stress can make you feel isolated and alone in your struggles. Volunteering counteracts that by connecting you to people with similar interests and concerns. And if you and a friend or two take on volunteering together, it can be a lot of fun!  This will also keep you from feeling isolated, but can contribute to feelings of depression and the blues.

The Christmas season is the perfect time to set aside some time to either begin volunteering or discuss with your family what you could do shortly after the New Year.  What a wonderful way to share God’s grace on your life with others and gig elf your time and talents.

Where is your heart calling you to volunteer?

 
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Volunteering at Summer Camps

5
Jun
2013


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Welcome to the 30 Days of Summer – Go-To Guide for Moms!

Day Five

One of the benefits of summer is that you can volunteer your time to help kids of all ages enjoy their summer camp experience.  This is a great activity to do as a family or for each of your children, depending on their age to venture out to do on their own.  You can choose from many different levels of camps – day camps, or overnight camps, the options are endless!

Is Your Child Going to Camp?

If you are sending your child to summer camp, and want to volunteer your time, make sure you talk to the person in charge to see how you go about passing all the requirements.  A lot of care is taken now with background checks, etc to ensure that the folks caring for the kids at camp are safe.  If your child is going to camp, this is a great place to start volunteering.

I can remember the first year my daughter when to a 4-day overnight camp sponsored by our church – she was a little apprehensive, so I assured her I would be coming out a couple different times to volunteer, so she was sure to see me.  It worked out great!

Vacation Bible School

Is your local church providing a Vacation Bible School this summer?  If so, find out how you can help out.  If you don’t have the means to volunteer for the entire week, perhaps you can share a position with another mom who is in the same position.  Or perhaps you could volunteer to supervise lunch time so allow the other volunteers to get a break.  There are options open to helping out.  Volunteer to provide snacks or craft materials.

Older Kids?

If you have older kids, why not encourage them to volunteer at a camp that would be interesting to them?  This is a great thing to keep in mind as your child grows and begins to fill out job and college applications.  This type of volunteer experience is highly favorable by admission offices and prospective employers.

Family Experience

Perhaps you can find a camp to volunteer together as a family.  Something as simple as helping out on check-in day can make things easier for other camp volunteers.  Helping to take campers to their cabins or tent areas is really helpful and can ease a campers anxiety.  Even with small children you can find a camp who will allow you to share your experience and willingness in just the right way.

Finding a Camp

Finding a camp is rather simple, there are a myriad of online sites who are asking for volunteers this summer. Check the summer camps in your area to determine which one is the best for you.

Here are a few online camp resources:

Camp Page –  This site is great, not only can you check the summer camps within your state, but you will be able to email them as well. In addition, this site also provides the individual camp’s website, where you can apply for the type of camp you are looking for. Or you can utilize their Summer Camp Articles and Resources page  which includes links for employment as well.

What is so wonderful about this particular site is that it gives you the type of camp, age range, and a little piece of information about the camp and its activities. You really can’t ask for better than that!  Instead of scouring around trying to find a specific camp, this site will direct you to all of the camps within your state so that you can make an informed decision. In some cases, for example, this listing also letís you know when the camp was established.

Volunteer Guide – This site has a huge list of camps which cater to special needs campers.  If this area is close to your heart, check it out to see if there is a camp locally which could use your support.

Girl Scouts – I went to Girl Scout camp s0 many times while growing up – these were some of my best memories of summer vacation.  Perhaps this is a place to start – you could volunteer while your daughter attends a camp?

Volunteering for summer camp, for whatever age group you choose, is a selfless act. The benefit in volunteering for summer camp is immeasurable. Knowing that you took time out of your summer to show and kindness to others is invaluable to the camps and the kids.  If you did this as a family, even better!

Whether you choose girls, boys, coed or wilderness – you can be certain it is appreciated, since most of these camps need as many volunteers as possible.

Have you volunteered at a summer camp before?

Home Front Hearts

6
Sep
2011


One of the wonderful aspects of The Confident Mom is the community of moms that I find myself amongst.  I love the interactions, unexpected meetings and stories that you all share.

Recently I had the opportunity to learn of an organization that provides support and resources to the families of service members.  I had mentioned ways families could serve outside the home in one of my newsletters, and a mom sent me a note to share her organization, because I had mentioned ways to help military families.

I would love to introduce you all to Randi Cairns.  She is the Founder and Executive Director of Home Front Hearts, Inc.  The mission of Home Front Hearts is to serve the families that serve our country by: providing support and resources to the families of service members, increasing public awareness of the struggles and sacrifices of military families, and engaging both individuals and businesses in building communities that are responsive to the needs of these families.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Randi and how she shares her heart in ways that help our military families! [Read more…]

30 Day Giving Challenge

28
Oct
2010


Do you have a heart for giving?

Do you want your giving to make a bigger impact this holiday season?

Would you like to set an example for your children that is more than your words?

Would you like to be part of a larger giving effort to make a BIG difference?

I am excited to share with you all the I am participating in The 30 Day Giving Challenge for 2010. What is The 30 Day Giving Challenge you ask? [Read more…]