This week's flourish and thrive (positive psychology in action) is all about volunteering. You may, or may not believe me, but volunteering has a number of psychological attributes. We all know that volunteering can make somebody feel nice, and you have the self satisfaction of helping somebody else, but actually volunteering also has a much broader impact on your being.
Research studies have found that volunteering and helping others has tangible benefits which are both psychological and physical - it includes things such as helping to lower your blood pressure, and reducing feelings of depression. There does not seem to be a difference between the type of volunteering that you do and in essence any helpful act creates these kinds of benefits.
Rodlescia Sneed, a public health research associate at Michigan State University says "Research has shown that there's evidence volunteer work promotes that psychological well being you're talking about." Sneed also says that her work has shown volunteering increases purpose in life and provides feelings of optimism.
I have seen all of this with my own eyes. I'm sure if you have ever volunteered for something you will have experienced some form of positive effect and impact upon yourself. Perhaps this week you can think about an act of volunteering that you could do, it does not need to be weekly or monthly, it could be a one-off. Whatever volunteering you decide to do it will have a positive impact on your physical and mental well-being.
In addition to this, as a Muslim, volunteering is also seen as an act of charity. So you are able to take full advantage of the spiritual well-being that you also gain.
In order to find any activity to volunteer for, think about something you enjoy and simply do a Google search for that activity plus volunteering. For example, I enjoy running and therefore I would search “running + volunteering.” Chances are that Parkrun is something that would turn up on the first page! Parkrun is a free 5km run (or walk) that is conducted all over the world on a Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and they are always seeking volunteers. This volunteering can be a one-off or a regular commitment it is really down to you.
So this week, in order to flourish and thrive I invite you to make a decision to volunteer for something in the next 7 days.
Please share your ideas for volunteering in the comments below so that we all have an opportunity to take advantage of other people's ideas as well. It may be that you have discovered something that others are not aware of and it could inspire somebody else to join in that volunteering activity with you.