How You Can Help Yourself While Helping Others
By Amy Jackson
How many times have you heard that phrase “It’s better to give than to receive?” It’s something we’re told as children and it’s reiterated throughout adulthood. It’s a common belief that happiness is found in helping others, but more recently it’s actually started to be backed up by research, with benefits including decreased symptoms of depression and a general improvement in our emotional wellbeing. In short, helping others can help you. It’s a great way to give us that warm fuzzy feeling, to give back to the community, and to help us learn more about ourselves. But what are the best ways to go about helping people?
If you can spare a few hours a week, volunteering is a great place to start when it comes to helping others. Find a cause you’re passionate about, and look into whether they have any volunteering opportunities. From befriending positions in hospitals, care homes and community centres to working a few hours in your local charity shop, there’s a huge range of organisations you can work with. Volunteering also allows you to focus on your personal development through self reflection. It’s a fantastic way to build your confidence and work on your social skills. At university I spent 6 months volunteering with a mental health charity, and it’s incredibly surprising the lessons you can learn about yourself through the stores you hear and the experiences you have.
Little Things Make a Big Difference
If you don’t have the time to commit to volunteering, there’s plenty of other ways you can give a little back. Most supermarkets and larger stores have charity collections, so why not donate any spare change you have on your way out of doing your weekly grocery shop? There’s plenty of stores around that will also allow you to add a small donation to organisations they support onto your total too. Do most of your shopping online? No problem! There are now several sites around that offer charity voucher codes. You can get a handy saving on your shopping, but in addition they also donate a portion of their profits to charity. A great way to do your good deed for the day in just a few clicks.
Do you have a hobby that you love? Maybe you’ve simply got a habit that you want to kick. Charity challenges are popping up everywhere recently, from half marathons to bake sales and adventure challenges. You can even sign up for sponsorship on giving up certain habits, such as smoking or drinking alcohol. Depending on what you sign yourself up for, you can work on your health and fitness while kick-starting a few good habits, all for a good cause. Knowing you’ve got a challenge to complete is a great way to keep you motivated and to give you some well needed encouragement when you need it most! Plus, think about how you’ll feel at the end of it - it’s a fantastic way to prove to yourself what you’re capable of.
Small Acts of Kindness
There’s even ways of giving back during your everyday routine. Simple things like giving up your seat on the bus for someone who needs it, picking up a piece of litter or holding the door open for someone are all small ways that you can spread a little positivity. Help that person in the street that’s struggling with their groceries, or perhaps even buy a hot drink for the homeless person you pass on your way to work. You never know what sort of day someone’s having, and a random act of kindness can be a small pick-me-up that makes things just that little bit better. One final thing too - don’t forget that a smile goes a long way!
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