NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Between the party planning, the feasting and the shopping marathons, the holidays can feel more like an exercise in excess than a season of cheer—and that can take a toll on your mental health. To help you kick off the new year, ValueOptions®, Inc., a health improvement company specializing in mental and emotional wellbeing and recovery, is reminding all of us that the best way to get back to center is to do something good for others.
You already know that volunteering touches the lives of the people in your community, but it might come as a surprise to learn just how much you can get out of giving back. Here are the top five reasons that volunteering is as much a gift to yourself as it is to your community:
5. It's the perfect excuse to get out of the house. When stressed spouses, screaming kids and a steady stream of neighbors bearing fruitcake prove to be too much, stepping out for a few hours can go a long way in clearing your head. Not only does volunteering get you out of the house guilt-free—helping those less fortunate will remind you of how lucky you really are this season.
4. You can put your talents to practical use. Are you an enthusiastic organizer? Help sort canned goods at a food bank, or assist a time-crunched organization with data entry. If you have the gift of gab, consider using your charms to secure donations or sponsorships for charity events. Your skills will only get stronger as you apply them in new ways.
3. It adds muscle to your resume. In addition to growing the talents you already have, volunteering is a great way to develop new skills and take on leadership roles you might not get elsewhere—which may be just the boost you need to stand out in a sea of job candidates. Volunteer organizations you're active with can also provide you with a reference for future employers.
2. You'll expand your social circle. Whether you're new to an area or just want to make more friends, volunteering puts you in contact with people who care about the same things you do. Along with getting acquainted with your organization's fellow do-gooders, annual fundraisers or galas will help you network with members of your community.
1. Volunteering isn't just good for your community—it's good for your mental health. Why do so many people get into the spirit of volunteering? Because when we help others, we're actually helping ourselves to a lot of good feelings. "Volunteering gives us a sense of purpose," said Dr. Gary Proctor, ValueOptions Divisional Chief Medical Officer. "In addition to increasing our self-esteem and fostering a greater sense of involvement within our communities, some studies have shown volunteering may lower rates of depression and even help us live longer."
Not sure where to start? Organizations like VolunteerMatch allow you to search for opportunities in your area by favorite causes, location, specific dates or volunteer types, and can even connect you with virtual positions if you prefer to work your helpful magic remotely. Visit www.volunteermatch.org to find a role that's right for you.
ValueOptions is a health improvement company that serves more than 32 million individuals. On behalf of employers, health plans and government agencies, we manage innovative programs and solutions that directly address the challenges our health care system faces today. A national leader in the fields of mental and emotional wellbeing, recovery and resilience, employee assistance, and wellness, ValueOptions helps people make the difficult life changes needed to be healthier and more productive. With offices nationwide and a network of more than 130,000 provider locations, ValueOptions helps people take important steps in the right direction. We help them live their lives to the fullest potential. Visit www.valueoptions.com for more information.