The Importance of Volunteering at Christmas
Unfortunately for many of us, Christmas doesn't always equate to visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads. The commercialization and pressure of the season can sometimes be difficult to deal with. So taking a little break from the festivities to help others is often just what we need to regroup and renew.
More than a few studies have shown that volunteering results in numerous benefits, both physical and mental. People who volunteer feel more connected to their communities and useful to society, for example, and enjoy an expanded social circle. Volunteering can introduce you to new hobbies and interests, provide you with a sense of purpose and increase your self-confidence. Studies show it also helps you combat stress, anxiety, depression and anger. Volunteering, in short, makes you happy.
Research also indicates volunteering can be good for your overall physical health. Specifically, studies show volunteers have lower mortality rates than people who do not volunteer.
One less-pondered benefit of volunteering is that it often requires some training, which gives you the chance to learn new skills. In unstable economic times, such as during a pandemic, it's always a great idea to take any opportunity to beef up your resume and skill set.
Volunteering may also provide you with some perspective. If you're a little blue around the holidays, perhaps because you're missing a loved one or are stressed by all of the preparations, think of how hard the season is for families experiencing homelessness or barely making ends meet. You might also make some new friends with other volunteers.
If all of these benefits aren't motivation enough to volunteer this Christmas, considering taking on a project to set a good example for your loved ones. It's the easiest way to show them that the holidays aren't just about a large feast and presents. And who knows? Maybe you'll like the experience so much you'll decide to volunteer all year-round.
Originally Published: Jun 3, 2009
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Atlanta Mission. "Welcome to the Atlanta Mission volunteer site!" (Dec. 8, 2020) https://atlantamission.volunteerhub.com/lp/volunteerfromhome/
- Boudin, Michelle. "30 Christmas Volunteer Opportunities and Ideas." SignUpGenius. (Dec. 8, 2020) https://www.signupgenius.com/home/christmas-volunteer-opportunities-ideas.cfm
- Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Washington. "Holiday Volunteer Opportunities." (Dec. 8, 2020) https://www.catholiccharitiesdc.org/covid-19-volunteer-opportunities/
- Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS). "The Health Benefits of Volunteering." (Accessed 5/1/5/09) http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf
- Dube, Ryan. "Top 7 Christmas Charity Organizations That Help Low Income Families." Make Use Of. Dec. 3, 2018. (Dec. 8, 2020) https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/7-top-charities-that-offer-online-christmas-help-for-low-income-families/
- GVI. "Volunteering at Christmas." (Dec. 8, 2020) https://www.gviusa.com/christmas-volunteering/
- Help Guide. "Volunteering and Its Surprising Benefits." (Dec. 8, 2020) https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm
- Mental Health America. Fact Sheet: Holiday Depression and Stress." (May 5, 2009) http://mentalhealthamerica.net/index.cfm?objectid=C7DF954D-1372-4D20-C80ED0A7AB69D250