Volunteering is a great way to show you care about the world around you. It boosts morale in your community and provides opportunities to enrich the lives of others. While all of this sounds very selfless, there are valuable, selfish reasons to volunteer too. Sounds a little strange, right? Well, it is true! Volunteering benefits more than just the people or organization that you are helping. It also benefits you.
Recent studies conducted at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill show a direct correlation between giving of yourself and finding happiness and improved personal relationships in life. Those who volunteer have increased lifespan, less instances of depression and a greater ability to remain healthy throughout crisis situations. Basically, volunteers remain incredibly resilient regardless of what curve balls life throws their way.
Perhaps you have considered volunteering, but you are not sure how to get started. The process is rather simple. The key to finding a great volunteer opportunity is to look for something you are passionate about and contact organizations who work with that cause. Regardless of how many hours you choose to volunteer, you will reap the benefits of your actions.
I previously discussed how the company you keep can dictate your mood and can cause feelings of depression. Your next question might be: if this holds true when you are around positive people too?
The answer is yes!
Have you ever noticed how a movie with a smiling, joking comedian will bring about great laughter and happy thoughts, and an afternoon spent playing with a joyful child will make you want to laugh and play too? This concept, known in the scientific world as positive synchronicity, is related to wiring in your brain and mirror neurons inside your body that cause you to mimic other people’s behaviors. It is the reason why spending time with positive people can be so important. This holds equally true in the workplace, your home environment and any social settings.
In addition to seeking the company of positive people, it is vital that you remain positive, because your emotions are contagious too. Keep this in mind the next time you are trying to have a positive influence on someone who might be feeling a little down. While your words are powerful tools, your actions speak even louder, and just a smile can make a difference in how someone around you acts, responds and feels. There is always value in a hearty laugh, friendly smile or positive action.
Do you find the company you keep dictates your mood? Have you have spent time around an unhappy individual only to find yourself feeling down? What if I told you spending time with someone who is blue can affect more than just your mood? If that person is facing depression, you risk experiencing depression too.
A recent study involving freshmen, conducted by Notre Dame University, showed that roommates paired with individuals who had negative thinking styles, meaning they constantly focused on everything bad in their lives, often began to display these thinking styles themselves. So, while diagnosed depression did not appear contagious, negative thinking was, and it caused the healthier individual to later display more than double the number of depressive symptoms versus individuals paired with positive roommates.
So, how do you stop this problem before it begins?
First, spend time away from the depressed individual. Enjoy healthy company, participate in favorite activities, have some fun and always prioritize taking care of yourself.
Next, seek professional counseling. With the assistance of a therapist, explore your feelings and vent frustrations. This leads to healing.
Eventually, you might convince that important person in your life to seek counseling too, helping their healing to begin.