During National Volunteer Week, more people are finding out that helping others doesn’t take time, it makes time.
April 23rd is the start of National Volunteer Week, a celebration of Americans who give their time and talents to help others in their communities and around the world. One quarter of Americans participate in organized volunteering, and over two-thirds contribute their time in more informal ways, helping friends, family and neighbors. One reason that volunteering is more and more popular is that donating hours to helping others actually makes you feel that you have more time at your disposal.
Psychologists have found that volunteering is an effective way to increase your sense of time affluence. Essentially, it’s a way of convincing yourself, “if I can afford to give away my time, I must have plenty.” (For whatever reason, the same studies show that wasting time, which seems like it would represent a similar superfluity, does not result in the same level of perceived affluence. Apparently, you have to give to get.)
What’s more, volunteering can bring you more time in ways that go well beyond the subjective. Studies have shown that people who reported 200 hours or more of volunteer work per year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure. In other words, you don’t just feel like you have more time, you can actually live longer.
If you like the idea that you can improve your life by doing good for others, you can start by finding an organization and joining with like-minded people.
The most popular volunteer activities, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service include collecting and distributing food and clothing, with coaching, tutoring and mentoring close behind.
But opportunities for volunteer activities are as varied as the country itself, ranging from:
- Working with birds at the National Aviary, to
- Connecting dogs with homebound seniors,
- clearing treacherous snow-covered sidewalks,
- urban renewal and development,
- supporting health care,
- human rights and
- the environment.
All of these activities and many more can be found at KidsThatDoGood.com, or through a quick Google search. So what’s holding you back? Take advantage of National Volunteer Week to take more control of your time and do something you feel good about.
Get a life!