In midlife, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost your identity. Volunteering can open up a whole new world and has a positive effect on mental health in terms of managing depression, enhancing life satisfaction and wellbeing. It puts you in a position where you can be appreciated.
Once I entered midlife, I started thinking about how I could give something back to my local community. My family and I have always used the facilities at our local leisure centre, from roller-skating to Boogie Bounce, Karate and the gym. It seemed the perfect fit and is mostly run by volunteers. I’ve been volunteering there for over 2 years now and have recently been asked to join the board of trustees. My general duties include manning reception and helping out during public skating sessions, I’ve even booked in for some skating lessons for myself!
Being a volunteer makes me feel all warm inside, knowing that the time you give is so gratefully appreciated, which is a feeling that is often lacking in our hectic lives.
Let’s face it, in today’s busy world we often forget to appreciate others and go overlooked ourselves! If like me, you are a mother and wife you may often feel that your numerous responsibilities are taken for granted: chef, cleaner, maid, taxi driver, financial planner, social diary administrator and the list goes on. So, when you hear those uplifting words, “Thanks so much for that.” How can your mood not feel improved? Just typing these words of gratitude makes me smile!
The same is often true within the workplace. Our life satisfaction gets buried under mountains of paperwork and looming deadlines. Now, the mere thought of volunteering may seem ludicrous to you as you struggle to juggle home life and work, but volunteering doesn’t have to take up much of your time. Some organisations are happy to accept an hour here and there, whether you can commit once a week or once a month, you will feel appreciated.
What’s more, volunteering gives you a sense of purpose; a reason to keep going. Knowing that you are helping others is so rewarding and that little buzz you receive can filter into all aspects of your life. You could pick something that you wouldn’t normally be drawn to, giving you the chance to explore and push your boundaries.
Volunteering in your midlife can be very empowering, too. In addition to the improvement in your overall wellbeing, it can: open up employment opportunities as you learn new skills, improve your social skills by connecting you to others and even improve your physical health. I was lucky enough to complete a full day of first aid training.
The world of volunteering is vast, ranging from conservation of local areas outdoors to manning a reception area and answering the phone. If you live in the UK, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has loads of information on how to get into volunteering. Volunteers’ Week may have just finished, but it’s never too late to get involved. Find out what volunteering opportunities there are in your local area and be part of something especially rewarding.
Create a new identity and become a volunteer.