By the Psychologist of "Thalpos Kalamata" Evie Tsikrikou
For the fifth consecutive year, on April 17th Greece participated in European voluntary campaign named "Let's Do It".
This campaign is a great deal of effort organized by a group of citizens in Estonia with the aim of the whole country being cleaned within a day. At first glance, it seemed to be an unattainable ambition but eventually it was successfully achieved because of the amazing effort a huge number of volunteers made. With time, it was named “Let's Do It” and took international dimensions.
The participation of people aims not only at its practical dimension – Estonian regions be cleaned – but also at the symbolization of the action. Having as a primary goal the acknowledgement of the benefits volunteering provides and by extension its spontaneous action, the campaign "Let's Do It" wants to change people's perspective about the action of giving without getting paid into mental reward.
Embracing the spirit of volunteering, "Thalpos I" actively and with great pleasure participated in this voluntary campaign. Its members proudly wore the logotype of "Thalpos I" and worked hard for cleaning up and dyeing the playground and its surroundings at the region of Avramoyianni in Kalamata. The council of Municipal Community of Kalamata contributed to set a pleasant work atmosphere.
The result was absolutely fulfilling for the participants, pushing aside the physical fatigue, while the rendezvous for the next year has already been planned. In the hope that community will be more awakened and active next year, "Thalpos I" wanted to remind us the relation between mental health and volunteering.
Many researches have proven that helping others, happiness is automatically triggered. In fact, when researchers of Social Science at the London School of Economics examined the correlation of volunteering and happiness in a large number of American adults, they found that the more someone practices volunteering, the more happy he or she becomes. Facts showed that even though people who have never participated in a voluntary action before, they could increase the possibility to become happier around 7% if they started their participation on a monthly basis and around 12% in case of volunteering from two to four times a week. Researchers pointed out that 16% of volunteers with weekly action, they can feel happier the same way as they gained a significant salary increase, such as $75,000-100,000 against $20,000.
One of the most acknowledged benefits of volunteering is its impact on the community. Volunteers are the "adhesive" that keeps the members of a community together. volunteering gives us the opportunity to connect with our community and make it a better place to live in. It is bidirectional, since it benefits both volunteer as well as the scope of the action.
Spending time as a volunteer helps us to meet new friends, extend our social network and improve our social skills. Although some people are naturally extrovert, some others are specially introverted and have difficulties with meeting new people. volunteering enables us to develop our social skills since we meet people with common interests on a regular basis.
Also, being volunteer lessens the possibility of being depressed. The stable and supportive network has the capability to keep us calm in case of passing through difficult times.
It enhances the sense of "belonging", collaboration and togetherness, beneficial tools for the formation of children's and teenager's personality, without excluding adult's personality. Despite the difficulty of all schedules be eventually coordinated, being a member of a voluntary team has considerable advantages and what makes the difference is the connection between city and citizens.
In addition, volunteer's self-esteem and confidence are boosted to a considerable extend. Doing good for others provides us with a natural sense of fulfilment and proud. We, also, maintain our physical health regardless of which age we are, while it is even more beneficial for older ages. Studies have shown that volunteers have lower mortality rate than others, even when factors such as participants' health are considered. Moreover, volunteering tends to reduce the symptoms of chronic pain and heart disease.
In conclusion, volunteering brings about completeness and entertainment in our life, since it is an amusing and at the same time easy way to discover and explore our interests. When we consider the voluntary action as an important and interesting one, it can be a relaxing and refreshing breather. Volunteering provides us with creativity, motivation and vision which correspond to our personal and professional life.