The COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial stress for many people around the world. From working from home, home-schooling kids, social distancing, quarantine, etc. – life as we know it has changed. However, folks are finding ways to boost their mental health AND give back to their communities while also staying safe and healthy.
According to an article by CNN Health, “Adults over 50 who volunteer for about two hours per week have a substantially reduced risk of dying, higher levels of physical activity and an improved sense of well-being.” The study was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine and analyzed data from nearly 13,000 “older Americans” selected from the Health and Retirement Study from 2010 to 2016.
Eric Kim, a research scientist in the department of social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health touted the benefits of volunteering for this demographic, saying that, “Volunteering might help enrich our own lives by strengthening our bonds to others, helping us feel a sense of purpose and optimism, and protecting us from feelings of loneliness, depressive symptoms, and hopelessness."
So, if volunteering is so beneficial for both those serving and those served, how can folks continue their charitable work during the pandemic? According to Kim, it’s all about reimagining volunteering. Here are some ways that the article recommends volunteering in a way that also helps you and your community stay safe:
- Visit your neighbors and see if they need anything. You can talk through screen doors or windows to maintain social distancing.
- Donate blood, make masks, pick up groceries, etc.
- Connect on apps like Nextdoor and see who in your neighborhood may be in need of help.
- Connect with local nonprofits and find out how you can volunteer virtually. This may include making phone calls asking for donations, doing virtual projects and reaching out to those in need via video chat. You may also be able to utilize your specific skillset! Let nonprofits know if you have a background in graphic design, social media, accounting, bookkeeping, counseling, domestic violence services, legal services, etc. Many nonprofits can utilize your skills virtually!
If volunteering is beneficial for both your community and your mental health, why wouldn’t we all find ways to give back? Despite the pandemic, today’s technological advancements give us the opportunity to volunteer in new, creative, innovative ways. How have you “e-volunteered” during the COVID-19 pandemic? We want to know!