Why winter is the best time to start volunteering
As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it is common to feel a bit ‘meh’. Less sunlight, less time in nature and more time stuck inside the house can lead to feeling low. Throw in the stresses and strains of the holiday season and persistent feelings of loneliness can start to creep in. However, there’s a simple, effective way you can take action to improve your social wellbeing this winter, volunteering.
'It turns out that when we reach out and help someone else, that not only enables us to connect with another human being, but it reminds us of our value and of our purpose in life.’ Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the USA
Regularly volunteering not only makes a difference to the world, but also improves your own sense of connection, purpose and wellbeing.
Build new connections and expand your social circles
It is a great way to meet people who share your interests and values. Whether you are motivated to protect the environment, support young people or reduce loneliness, there’s a myriad of ways to contribute. Working on projects you are passionate about together provides a structured way to get to know people. Equally, getting involved in volunteering organisations can provide unique opportunities to expand your social circle. Encountering people from different age groups and backgrounds can lead to friendships you might not have discovered through your everyday life.
Nurture a sense of purpose
Contributing to your community or a cause you care about cultivates a sense of purpose. Getting involved in crafting solutions helps demonstrate to yourself that your actions matter. Supporting other people can help shift focus away from negative inner monologues. Providing a productive distraction in the short term and building the foundations for improved confidence in the long term. Committing to a volunteering project can also act as a catalyst for building new routines that prioritise your social wellbeing.
Develop new skills and improve your mental health
Volunteering provides many opportunities to learn new skills and apply them through hands-on experience. Benefiting both your personal and professional growth. Alongside the learning opportunities, Engaging in acts of kindness is also shown to boost mood and reduce stress. Navigating different situations and solving problems as they arise also strengthens resilience, helping you better handle adversity in your day to day life.
But I don’t have any time to volunteer…
Really though? I’m sure your screen time app would tell a different story. It has never been easier to find a volunteering opportunity that suits your schedule. Identify a cause you support, decide how much time you you can commit, start small and build from there.
Here are a few ideas to explore to get started:
- ‘I’m not sure where to start.’ Browse Do-It to get an overview of different types of volunteering opportunities
- ‘I want to apply my professional skillset.’ Reach Volunteering focuses on connecting people to short term projects with charities that will benefit from your expertise
- ‘I want to volunteer in London.’ Team London helpfully pulls together a wealth of role across the capital
- ‘I’ve only got a few hours a month.’ Try mentoring. Organisations like Breadwinners, The Girls Network and The Prince’s Trust run programmes where a few hours can make a big difference