Is volunteering worth your time and energy?

A majority of my clients are in retirement or they will be retired within the next 5 years or so.   These relationships give me some great insight in to what retirement can be, for better or for worse.  I have found over the years that my healthiest and even more importantly, happiest clients in retirement are those who are quite busy.  I am often told that they do not know how they had the time to work as they feel even busier now and they are loving it!

Most of these busy individuals are doing some sort of volunteer work.  You have probably heard people say that as a volunteer they get more out of it than they feel the person or organization they are helping is gaining from the relationship. And if you have given some of your time and energy to someone besides yourself, you know this to be true.

You may not realize it but so many of our local and national organizations would either not exist or be much less effective without the help of their volunteers;  Nonprofits, churches, schools, and hospitals, just to name a few.  If you are looking to volunteer, a great place to start is with your local organizations that you may already support financially.

If you like kids and you’re a retired engineer; perhaps you could help to tutor a student who is struggling with their Math.  Maybe you’d rather do something quieter and not so interactive; many groups need help with office duties or computer work.  Do you like to be outside and physical? Your local parks department or national forest would love your help.  Are you handy around the house? I’m sure there are many fellow seniors who need some help fixing things.  These are just a few options. If you want to branch out, then take a look at www.volunteermatch.org.  There are many organizations that could use your skills.

I recently read a study done by the National Survey for Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NSGVP) that 79% of volunteers say their interpersonal skills, such as understanding people better, motivating others and dealing with difficult situations have improved through their work.  78% say they have learned new skills.  So it isn’t just the “feel good” factor of helping out a group that is in need, you are also using your brain and learning new things as well.

I am passionate about this subject because I have unfortunately witnessed several clients who have experienced depression and many health issues within a year or so of retirement.  This is by no means a scientific study, but I have seen this mental and physical downward spiral occur mostly in clients who are not getting out of the house frequently and who seem to be watching an awful lot of daytime TV.  Let’s face it; we all know that the daytime TV programming can be quite depressing for anyone!  The talking heads don’t seem to have anything nice to say about anyone or anything.

My advice, give yourself some purpose by giving back in any way you feel comfortable and I bet  you’ll feel a whole lot better.  Those of you who are already busier than ever, keep up the good work!  You inspire me!