Healing after a loss can be difficult.
We all know it’s never easy to keep going after you lose someone important to you. At times it can even seem impossible. We’ve written on this here (and here!), and we will again. But today, we focus on one way to help yourself cope: volunteering.
Getting Involved in Your Community
When you volunteer, you invest in your community. You’ll form connections with people. Volunteering is a great way to touch the lives of others, and in doing so, nourish your own spirit in your time of grief. It is during difficult times that you need a circle of friends around you most, and giving back to your community can help you widen that circle.
Mind, Body, and Spirit
Physical activity and social contact have been proven to help our mental health time and again. Working with your hands and exercising releases endorphins in your brain, which can improve your mood and enhance your sense of well-being. Being around other people also helps us moderate stress. When we’re lonely, we tend to produce higher amounts of the hormone cortisol, which creates feelings of stress and anxiety. High cortisol levels can also lead to physical ailments such as cardiovascular disease.
In other words, being around others keeps us healthier. You can read more about loneliness and how it affects your health here.
Keeping A Sense of Purpose
In the wake of a great loss, it can be easy for us to feel unmoored and lost. Finding your path again will take time, but a great way to start is to feel useful and busy. Volunteering is a way to get your foot in that metaphorical door–the less time you spend alone and idle, the easier it will be for you to get back on your feet and find your “new normal”. During a time of grief, you need to feel valued and seen, and volunteering your time to organizations who need it, like an animal shelter, will do wonders for your sense of purpose.