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7 Days of Wellbeing: A Volunteer Glasgow campaign for Mental Health Awareness Week 9th – 15th May 2022

During Mental Health Awareness Week, Volunteer Glasgow will be bringing a daily dose of positivity to your social media pages: promoting the many ways in which volunteering is good for us; highlighting volunteering opportunities than can offer wellbeing benefits, and sharing useful resources and daily wellbeing tips.

At Volunteer Glasgow, we like to sing the praises of volunteering, highlighting the ways in which it can boost your mental health while supporting the wellbeing of others.

Research shows that volunteering provides a range of benefits including enjoyment, satisfaction and achievement, meeting people and making friends, broadening life experience, boosting confidence, reducing stress, improving physical health and learning new skills.

As this year’s theme is loneliness, it would be remiss of us not to focus on the ways in which volunteering can help tackle this important issue, to help reduce isolation and to build our social connectedness. Social connectedness is important for mental wellbeing as it helps to build a sense of belonging, reduces isolation and loneliness and can help to strengthen our support networks. With this mind, we will be placing a particular emphasis on volunteering roles that have the power to connect people from all walks of life, providing a listening ear, practical support and companionship to the most isolated and vulnerable among us. Look out for our special feature on befriending later in the week – where we shine a light on some of our most successful matches and the positive impact that befriending has had on their lives.

Throughout the remainder of this month, we will be highlighting specific opportunities through our online event which has been created specifically for Mental Health Awareness Week. If you can’t find something suitable, you can still search for opportunities on our website. If you would like further advice, you can contact our Engagement & Inclusion team by emailing engagement@volunteerglasgow.org.

If you are an organisation that involves volunteers and you would like to find out more about Volunteer Glasgow’s free advertising service or you are seeking information, guidance and support about involving volunteers, please contact findvolunteers@volunteerglasgow.org.

Volunteering is one way to boost your mental health but there are many ways you might support your mental wellbeing – including: 

  • Taking up a stress-busting hobby such as yoga, meditation or journaling.
  • Moving regularly. Any form of exercise is great for physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Connecting with nature. Studies show that eco-therapy offers a range of benefits for our mental health including reduced stress, better immunity, improved mood and better sleep.
  • Pausing regularly throughout the day to check in with how you are feeling. By doing this, you will start to recognise when you are feeling sad, lonely, irritable or anxious and can put strategies in place to manage these feelings and any associated symptoms such as nausea, headaches and digestive complaints.
  • Finding your ikigai. A person’s ikigai is what gives them a sense of joy and purpose in life, and many consider finding their ikigai to be the secret to lifelong fulfilment. For instance, your ikigai could be found in caring for others, through creating beauty or by spreading peace. The key to finding yours is paying attention to what inspires and brings you joy.
  • Immersing yourself in an activity you love. Psychologists call this ‘flow’, and the rest of us often refer to it as ‘being in the zone’. People who regularly access flow have greater creativity, and better mental and physical health.
  • Trying new things. This is a great way to learn new skills, to build self-esteem and confidence. There is also a lot of evidence to indicate that trying new things can reduce fear and anxiety, and alleviate depression.
  • Decluttering. If you’re looking for an easy way to reduce stress, decluttering your environment may be a good place to start. Getting rid of excess stuff can benefit your mental health by making you feel calmer, happier, and more in control. A tidier space can make for a more relaxed mind.
  • Prioritising sleep. If you find it hard to nod off, or wake frequently in the night, there are a number of things you can do to help tackle sleep-related issues, such as developing a ‘wind-down’ routine before bed which include a warm, milky drink and a bath, and avoiding stimulating activities, caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime.
  • Cold water therapy. A practice which might include ice baths, brisk daily showers and outdoor swims, which can improve circulation, deepen sleep, boost levels, and reduce inflammation in your body. Crucially, certain case studies suggest that cold open water swimming can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety in some people. 
  • Taking a break. Having a bit of time out gives your brain a chance to recharge. Mindfulness is a great outlet for dealing with stress and anxiety, and is as easy as going for a walk in the park and tuning into your surroundings.
  • Making time for self-care. This doesn’t have to mean lavender baths and chanting and will be different for everybody. The key is to find an activity that nourishes you – like gardening, listening to music or getting your nails done – whatever fills your metaphorical cup, and should be as much of a priority as any other activity you routinely schedule in your diary.
  • Focusing on the now. The 5-4-3-2-1 method helps ground you when you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Focus on naming 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This mindful practice is an effective way to help prevent negative thoughts from spiraling and bring your back to the present.

 


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