How serving others allowed me to self-care
The first time I volunteered to help others I was about 16 years old. To graduate high school one of the requirements was volunteering hours and after looking for options as to where I could spend my days meeting this requirement, I found a local nursing home that needed volunteers during the weekends.
The “job” was simple. Entertain the nursing home residents through events, activities and also do room visits. I remember the first day walking in to the nursing home and being so shocked as to how sad it was to see the elderly being so lonely. Most would sit by the windows, looking at how everything on the outside kept moving along while their days were slow and dark. Truly hurt my heart and I made it a mission to keep helping the nursing home to bring light into their days. I think they changed my life more than how I changed theirs. From enjoying lunch with them, playing bingo, reading stories, decorating their rooms and more, it was something so simple yet it brought me immense joy.
Once I left home to join the military, I knew I wanted to keep volunteering and finding ways to give back to my community. I would sign up to volunteer with different non-profits; from food drives, reading to the local schools, blood drives, helping other soldiers through on base programs and more. Even through my own deployments I was ready to raise my hand to volunteer. I was finding my calling in helping others and it truly made my days. It now has been over 15 years and my love for volunteering has not only grown but it is now part of my own self-care.
Volunteering has amazing benefits and doing right by others has helped me in so many ways.
Being a volunteer has helped me with my own mental health and has given me an extra sense of purpose in this life.
Finding time to volunteer has helped me connect with others helping my extrovert side create relationships and increase my social skills. It has allowed me to share this passion with my family and show my kids the importance of giving back to our community in and out our military lifestyle. Volunteering has made me a happier person. I have always been very happy and positive person but through volunteering I have been able to see everything through a different lens that has brought so much perspective into my life. It has been a beautiful journey of healing and love where focusing on others has allowed me to be a better version of myself and promote self-care through my time giving back. Self-care is more than a day at the spa, or an afternoon reading your favorite book. Self-care is about what brings you joy, calm, a deeper sense of self; volunteering brought me self-care. Mental self-care, emotional self-care, social self-care, spiritual self-care...
For many volunteering can be about a certificate, a shiny coin or fancy display of achievement but for me, it has given me way more than expected.
It is not about what volunteering has helped me accomplish but what volunteering has done for me to live a life worth living.
Volunteering shaped my self-care to come at a deeper level, one I would be happy to practice without expecting anything in return. Volunteering has created a self-care space for me and I will never give up on helping others.