Volunteering to Improve Your Mental Disorder

Hello angels, welcome back to my blog! 

I volunteered from the age of fourteen to sixteen at a local charity shop named Julia’s House, a dedicated Dorset and Wiltshire hospice which supports children with life-limiting illnesses and their families, providing constant round-the-clock care. My time as a volunteer allowed me to help myself whilst helping others, and it was truly one of the best decisions I have ever made.

So, how can it improve your mental disorder?

Reduces isolation

Sufferers of anxiety and depression especially, can find themselves withdrawing from other people and society. These illnesses also mean that individuals lose interest in things that they used to enjoy, which contributes to their isolating behaviours. Suddenly you can find yourself in a cycle of loneliness that is extremely difficult to break out of.

Oxytocin is a ‘feel good hormone’ which is produced in a small area of the brain called the hypothalamus. It is released as a result of positive human interactions and also has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Individuals who release more oxytocin are happier and have stronger emotional relationships with others. By volunteering and being exposed to a number of other employees, workers and customers, your oxytocin chemical levels will rise, and in turn encourage you to initiate further social interactions in the future.

It can be especially difficult and scary to take that first step and put yourself in a new environment, but the end result has benefits which you are SO deserving of.

Increases self-esteem

Without volunteers dedicating their time to support Julia’s House the charity wouldn’t be able to provide respite care to very sick children, which gives them a genuine quality of life. The difference which volunteers make to the lives of these children is invaluable. Making this possible is likely to increase volunteers’ self-esteem and prove that they should view themselves in a positive light. Mental illnesses can make your self-esteem plummet. Therefore, it is really important to invest time into self-care everyday and to acknowledge the positive things that you give to the universe. This list is concrete evidence that you are enough, you are a good person, you are achieving things… It can be referred to when you are doubting yourself and the progress you’ve made.

Gives perspective

Learning about the charity which you are volunteering for can give you a more positive outlook on life. As you can put your worries into perspective, after realising that other people in the world are less fortunate than yourself. Additionally, this creates the opportunity to find gratitude for the things that we have, for example: being in good health.

The quote below describes how a positive outlook and perspective can change the way that you view things, for the better. If you are able to catch yourself in a negative thought or belief, try to change it into a positive one. For example, instead of saying ‘I don’t like the colour of my coat’ say ‘I am thankful to have a coat that keeps me warm’.

‘When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change’ -Unknown

Gives purpose

Volunteering brings a sense of purpose, because on one day every week when the clock hits 4pm lets say, you are needed. It is such a rewarding use of your time, which emphasises that you are in this world for a reason: to make a difference. Being a volunteer goes beyond individual gain; it means something to more than just yourself and that’s the real beauty of it.

Gives structure

Giving something back to society can become a part of your routine, and create structure in your diary. Availability is determined by you, and there is no long-term commitment if you don’t want there to be. This time slot can help to distract you from negative thoughts and feelings. It can also be something to look forward to and to get you through difficult days of the week.

 

Further benefits of volunteering

There are even more benefits of volunteering, which are unrelated to your mental health!

  • Firstly, volunteering can increase your confidence, which means that you will feel increasingly comfortable conversing with strangers. This is a really valuable quality to have and can prepare you for paid future work.
  • Volunteering in your own time looks amazing on your curriculum vitae (CV). Additionally, it communicates to future employers that you’re hard-working and dedicated, which puts you at an advantage over other people.
  • In 2014, when I started to volunteer, I made new friendships including a fellow blogger: Jade who you may know better as pintsizepixie on social media!

She kindly spoke to me about her time as a volunteer. ‘When I first started volunteering for my local charity shop, I was fresh out of college with little to no people skills as well as a hefty amount of crippling anxiety. The thought of mixing with members of the public (rather than those who I knew and felt comfortable with) was enough to fill me with dread! So much that I would be physically sick for around the first month. Slowly but surely I began to come out of my shell, and although my anxiety did remain, it became easier and easier over time! I have made new friends, learnt new skills that have been irreplaceable later in life and most importantly it got me out of the house and out of my little bubble of anxiety. Before I volunteered I had no self confidence and the smallest of things could trigger an anxiety attack. Nowadays I’m far happier in myself, have more confidence and have also made lifelong friendships that have contributed to me slowly but surely gaining a better understanding of my mental health and how to manage it.’

 

Have you experienced volunteering? Is it something that you would try? Let me know in the comments!

See you on Friday for a brand new blog post!

You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!

Love Casey x

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24 Comments

  1. March 9, 2019 / 12:25 AM

    This is such a lovely way of looking at volunteering!

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 1:00 PM

      Hi Sarah,
      Thank you very much angel!
      Love Casey x

  2. Kate
    March 9, 2019 / 5:36 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing such an important topic. I have definitely felt more confident when helping others and this post is such a positive way of increasing self-esteem.

    HouseofHeight

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 12:56 PM

      Hi Kate,
      Thank you lovely! Being able to contribute positively in our society is just so rewarding!
      Love Casey x

  3. March 9, 2019 / 6:24 PM

    This is such a great post! I’ve been volunteering in various places since the age of 12 and it has been such a help in giving me purpose in life and is perfect on your CV.
    Thanks for sharing
    Loren | Plaid & Sugar

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 12:52 PM

      Hello Loren,
      Thank you very much angel! I’m so pleased to know you’ve had a positive volunteering experience!
      Love Casey x

  4. March 10, 2019 / 9:13 AM

    Fantastic reasons to get volunteering! I used to volunteer alot when I lived with my parents but since moving out work and life have taken over 🙁 But you have reminded me how much I love it so I’m going to find out what I can do near me 😊 Thank you for inspiring me 💜

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 12:50 PM

      Hi Emma,
      Thank you angel! That is so great to hear, it is such a positive thing to find time for what you love! Thank you for leaving such a lovely comment!
      Love Casey x

  5. March 10, 2019 / 9:13 AM

    Love this post!! I’ll be volunteering in a nursery soon and I can’t wait. I’d love go volunteer somewhere else as well if I’m able to as I know how rewarding and inspiring it can be.

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 12:48 PM

      Hello Coralle,
      Thank you so much lovely! I hope you have a wonderful experience at the nursery, I would really love to hear how you get on!
      Love Casey x

  6. March 10, 2019 / 10:37 AM

    Some really helpful tips especially for collage leavers. Thanks for sharing this great post.

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 12:48 PM

      Hi John,
      Thank you very much!
      Love Casey x

  7. March 10, 2019 / 3:06 PM

    This is honestly such a good point and I can’t believe I haven’t thought of volunteering to help my mental health during my mental health journey. I have anxiety and depression and I definitely see how it could be beneficial, I’ll have to try it out!

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 12:46 PM

      Hello Elayna,
      I really hope that you find it helpful angel, I’d love to know how you get on!
      Love Casey x

  8. March 10, 2019 / 4:13 PM

    I adore this post! I’ve been struggling with mental health issues recently, and I’ve been looking for something to occupy my time, energy, and focus while I try to sort it out. I’m also in the process of finding a new job and have been feeling very discouraged.

    Also subscribing to your blog–love your content.

    Cheers,
    Jacqie

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 12:46 PM

      Hi Jacqie,
      Thank you so much angel! I really hope that this is beneficial for you and I look forward to seeing you here again soon! Sending positive vibes and love angel,
      Love Casey x

  9. March 10, 2019 / 4:23 PM

    Wow I love this! I’d never considered how volunteering could be so beneficial, I think I might sign up for some finally 🙂

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 12, 2019 / 12:40 PM

      Hello Lauren,
      Thank you angel! I really hope that you enjoy it lovely, please let me know how you find it!
      Love Casey x

  10. March 13, 2019 / 6:41 PM

    I love this! Great post. Volunteering is really valuable, both to ourselves and others. I’m so glad you mentioned all of the benefits, from interacting with others to giving a sense of purpose. Thank you for sharing!

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 13, 2019 / 10:11 PM

      Hello Savannah,
      Thank you very much for reading and commenting angel!
      Love Casey x

  11. March 14, 2019 / 9:08 AM

    This is such an inspiring post. I’m glad volunteering helped you in this way!

    I used to volunteer for children who had very little and were often neglected at home and so I was their buddy once a week. I just chatted to them and helped them with their work and talked about life.

    It was SO rewarding.

    It’s such an accomplishment knowing you might have made that person’s day a bit better.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing

    Jess (coffee and corfu) xx

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 15, 2019 / 4:54 PM

      Hello Jess,
      Thank you very much angel! I can imagine how rewarding that must have been, I’m so pleased for you!
      Love Casey x

  12. March 14, 2019 / 3:47 PM

    You are amazing! Thank you for sharing! I believe this is such a wonderful idea. You can hrlp someone and help yourself grow at the same time. Keep inspiring and helping more and more people! ❤

    • casestreetx
      Author
      March 15, 2019 / 4:55 PM

      Hello Monica,
      Thank you angel! I will try my best!
      Love Casey x

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