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How Volunteering Helps Your Mental and Physical Health

When you volunteer, you get the satisfaction of knowing you helped someone out, even if only for a day. However, did you know volunteering also helps yourself? Studies have found that volunteering can positively impact both your body and your mind. We’re here to tell you all about the different ways doing good in your community can do some good for yourself.

Volunteering helps you stay physically and mentally active.
Many volunteer opportunities require you to be on your feet, which according to researchers, causes many volunteers to report better physical health than their non-volunteering counterparts, especially in those over 60 years of age. When you volunteer, you’re moving and thinking at the same time, stimulating your brain and keeping your mental health in shape. Some volunteers even report higher levels of life satisfaction.

Volunteering decreases your risk of depression.
Continuously volunteering increases your social interactions and gives you a support system of those with common interests. These factors are proven to lead to lower rates of depression, particularly for those 65 years and older. 

Volunteering can help you live longer.
Researchers have found that those who volunteer have lower rates of mortality than non-volunteers, even when factoring in gender, age and physical health. Volunteers with chronic or serious illnesses also have reported decreased pain intensity and depression when they help others in pain. 

Volunteering allows you to form meaningful relationships.
Meeting new people while volunteering is often many people’s favorite aspects of it. Whether it’s someone you served or a fellow volunteer, donating your time is a great way to expand your social network. You can also volunteer with those you know to strengthen existing relationships. Social skills and friendships are essential to positive mental health. 

Volunteering can reduce stress levels.
When you volunteer, you often feel a sense of purpose and appreciation. It can come from yourself, as well as from those whom you serve. This feeling of meaning has the ability to reduce your stress levels. The social relationships you form while volunteering can also alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.

Volunteering can improve your confidence.
As you continue to volunteer consistently, you become more sure of yourself in your role. For example, if you regularly volunteer at your local nursing home, you know what you’re doing and how to best help each individual. This self-assurance can translate into your daily life. You become more comfortable speaking to new people and dealing with conflict. Confidence is key to good mental health, so if you feel it’s something you should work on, try volunteering. 

Volunteering is a great way to improve your community, as well as your body and mind. If you’re looking to do some good in more ways than one, check out volunteering opportunities in a field that interests you.

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Pumpkin Patch Activities your Family will Love this Fall

It wouldn’t be fall without at least one trip to your local pumpkin patch, right? Everyone gets to pick out their perfect pumpkin to carve, paint or simply place on the porch. However, scouring a patch is only fun for so long. Luckily, most pumpkin patches have other activities to keep you and your family entertained all afternoon. Keep reading for a full list of our favorite pumpkinless patch pastimes. 

Petting Zoos
Many pumpkin patches allow you the opportunity to interact with farm animals such as goats, rabbits or even alpacas. Petting zoos are a great way to introduce children to different kinds of livestock. Most kids get a kick out of getting up close and personal with these animals, but make sure your little ones aren’t too overwhelmed by them, especially if they’re feeding them. Some animals may get a little too friendly when someone’s trying to feed them.

Jumping Pillows
Typically made of inflatable PVC cushion, these trampoline-like pillows can hold about 10–20 kids at a time. They’re a great way to let your kids blow off some steam in a safe way since most are surrounded by soft sand and sit close to the ground. Just make sure it hasn’t recently rained, as a slick pillow makes kids more prone to slipping.

Corn Mazes
Corn mazes are great for older kids who aren’t big fans of haunted houses. They are comforted knowing you’re with them the entire time. Try letting them lead the way in order to give them more independence. Allowing them to take the reins also can improve their leadership skills and communication. If they get scared or frustrated, offer to help them out or have them ask an employee for directions.

Pumpkin Chucking
You can find this oddly satisfying activity at most pumpkin patches. It involves loading a pumpkin into a catapult and flinging it into an open field. Most patches give you the option of watching from a distance or launching the pumpkins yourself. Depending on the age of your children, you’ll be able to decide how you’d like to participate.

Hayrack Rides
Haunted or spook free, it’s up to you. An evening ride through the pumpkin patch is the perfect way to wind down your day of family fun. You get to rest a bit while watching the sun set over the patch. Helpful tip: make sure you and your family members wear jeans or some sort of pants. Shorts and skirts make it easy for the hay bales to scratch up uncovered legs.

Pumpkin patches are a staple of the autumn season. They’re the perfect fall family outing for kids of all ages. Be sure to check out your local patch online and see all the fun activities it has to offer.

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Celebrate National Day of Encouragement

This Thursday, September 12, marks National Day of Encouragement. Signed into effect in 2007, National Day of Encouragement is intended for us to uplift those around us and make them feel good. Showing a little encouragement is an easy way to make someone’s day, and we’ve come up with a few ideas on how you can do so.

Tell someone you’re proud of them.
It doesn’t have to be in reference to something they’ve done. Maybe you’re just proud of them for who they are as a person. The four words, “I’m proud of you,” can do wonders for someone’s confidence and self-worth. It’s a phrase we all love to hear, so why not share it with others?

Send a note to someone you’re thinking about.
Do you know someone who’s currently under a bit of pressure? Maybe they have a job interview or a big exam coming up. This is the perfect time to write them a note to say you’re thinking about them. Even a simple, “You’ve got this!” could give them an extra confidence boost to ace whatever they’re facing.

Give someone more responsibility.
Granting a person more authority shows them you trust them. You’re essentially telling them, “I believe in you.” However, that belief should not translate into micromanaging. Delegating responsibility means you have faith in the person to make the right decision. Trying later to “fix” what they’ve done will do the opposite of encourage them.

Praise someone publicly.
Encouraging someone in front of others lets them know you appreciate them. It’s telling those around that you believe in that person’s abilities. Your kind words will hopefully motivate him or her to continue their good work.

Extend a helping hand.
Simply offering to help someone out is a great way to encourage them. Make sure you’re wording your question specifically. Asking, “How can I help?” can leave them stumped. Try asking “Would it help if I…” instead. This question is less open ended and is more likely to end in an acceptance.

Simply be there.
If you know someone going through a rough time, they might not be ready to open up. By saying, “I’m here for you if, or when, you’re ready to talk,” you are being encouraging without being intrusive. They’ll appreciate your approach and hopefully open up to you.

National Day of Encouragement is the perfect excuse to show those around you that you care. A simple, “You’ve got this!” can go a long way in making someone’s day. Put your own personal spin on any of the above ideas, and you’re sure to make the most of your National Day of Encouragement.

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Fall into Volunteering this Autumn

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of sweaters, pumpkin patches, and caramel apples. With the weather cooling down, many want to spend their free time curled up at home. However, there are plenty of ways to help your community this time of year. Autumn’s beautiful weather and fun holidays make it easy to find volunteering opportunities in your area. We’ve come up with a few ideas to get you started.

Organize a neighborhood park clean-up.
Before the leaves begin to fall, round up your neighbors for a pick-up of your local park. It’s important to clear the area of garbage before it gets covered in leaves, and eventually snow. Otherwise, come spring time, you’ll be left with a soggy mess once the snow and ice melt. Pick a nice day, grab some bags and gloves, and you’ll have your park looking better in no time. 

Rake leaves for someone in need.
Do you have a neighbor or loved one who could use an extra hand? Maybe they’re a senior citizen or they have young children. Consider offering to rake their leaves for them. Not only will you be doing someone a favor, but you’ll also be spending time in the crisp weather. Raking is also a good form of exercise, which is an added bonus to your good deed!

Make blankets for a homeless shelter.
The weather is cooling down, so people will be looking for ways to keep warm. You can help residents of homeless shelters do so by making and donating blankets. Fleece tie blankets are super simple to make; you can find tutorials with just a quick internet search. Consider hosting a blanket-making party with your friends and family. It’s a great way to bond with your loved ones and do something good for others.

Take underprivileged kids trick-or-treating.
Many children’s homes seek volunteers each year to take children trick-or-treating. They often support many kids, so it’s difficult to take them all out at one time. You could be of great help to them by making sure the kids have a safe and fun Halloween evening. Plus, it’s always fun to see Halloween through the eyes of a child.

Set up a drive for your local food bank.
Every year, there are families who can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner. You can help them by organizing a food drive with your school, faith-based organization or family and friends. By collecting and donating canned goods and non-perishables, you’ll assist your local food pantry providing families with the holiday meal they deserve. You can even volunteer to help serve it!

The fall is a great time to volunteer and do some good in your community. You can do it solo or with a group. At the end of the day, you’ll feel better knowing you gave back. Then you can relax with a cup of cider and a slice of pie.