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Volunteering in your community is a win-win situation. Not only do you help those less fortunate than you, but you also receive many benefits as well – both personal and professional.

Nothing gives you satisfaction like giving back to your community. Volunteering brings knowledge, experience and positivity to your life.

Check out these benefits for giving back to your community:

1. You’re reminded there’s a whole world outside of yourself. Giving back helps you de-focus from yourself and your own challenges while showing you the struggles and needs of others.

2. Being a part of something bigger than yourself is rewarding. We’re reminded of the impact we can make on others when we become a part of something bigger. Giving back to the community allows you those experiences.

3. Learn something new. Regardless of how you decide to help your community, it’s likely you’ll learn something you didn’t already know.

4. Strengthen your confidence. Because you’re helping others, you’ll feel more positive about yourself.

5. Gain work experience. Depending on the type of community work you do, you could learn something that will help you in your job or future work.

6. Make new business contacts. Getting out and giving back to your community will help you meet more people. Because each person has a network of their own, you never know how far your positive influence could travel – bringing you new prospects, clients, or even job offers.

7. Helping others is a wonderful thing to do. It does your heart, mind and soul good to reach out to help others.

8. Become known in the community. If you want more people to know and recognize you, helping others is a great public relations strategy.

9. Make new friends. Because you’ll encounter so many new people, you could meet people that you become friends with.

10. Strengthen your community. Volunteering contributes to your community by uplifting others in the community.

11. Know that you make a positive difference. Volunteering makes a difference to you, to the agency you volunteer for, and to your community.

12. We don’t operate in a vacuum. Living your best life involves making and maintaining connections with others. Giving back to your community develops a network of resources you’ll be able to access when you need them.

13. Add to your resume. Volunteering gives you marketable experiences and qualifications to include in your resume.

14. Volunteering is a real-life experience that can’t be had in the classroom. Some college instructors recommend “service learning” which is another term for “volunteering” or “giving back to your community.” Service learning provides a real-world experience to students that would be impossible to learn in the classroom.

15. View how others live. Seeing how others live their lives enhances your own life.

Giving back to your community is important for a number of reasons. By volunteering, you view a world outside of yourself, learn new things, develop positive feelings, gain job experience, and make new contacts. Plus, helping out in your community is a kind and wonderful thing to do.

You might become well-known, make new friends, strengthen your community, and even add a line to your resume when you volunteer.

When you give back, you’ll experience things in the real world that you can’t in the classroom and you’ll see how others live. For these reasons and more, make it a point to give back to your community. You’ll be inspired!

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We all deal with anxiety and stress from time to time. In fact, it’s probably the number one complaint and cause for visits to the doctor’s office. And stress and anxiety can lead to a number of health problems including insomnia and heart disease.

In short, too much stress is a bad thing.

Here are three amazing relaxation techniques to ease anxiety and stress.

#1 Meditate. You’ll be amazed what five minutes of meditation can do for your overall sense of well being. That’s it, five minutes. Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to sit on the floor for an hour and chant. Start with five minutes of focusing on your breathing. As you begin to reap the benefits you’ll want to meditate longer. It’ll improve your physical and emotional health. You’ll not only be able to relax immediately when you’re feeling stressed, you’ll begin to manage stress much better.

Next time you’re feeling overly anxious or stressed go find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed for five minutes. Sit down so you’re comfortable, on a chair or on the floor, whichever works best. Close your eyes and simply focus on your breathing. As thoughts come into your mind, and they will, don’t judge them or react, simply set them aside and continue to focus on your breathing. You’ll feel so much better – instant relaxation.

#2 Daydream. If you’re struggling with meditation or that’s just not your style, daydream instead. Imagine yourself someplace relaxing. Some place that makes you feel happy and free. Find a quiet place, or just close your eyes at your desk, and allow yourself to daydream for five minutes. Make your daydreams as vivid as possible. Imagine what things smell like, what they feel like. What sounds do you hear?

#3 Change your mindset. They say that we attract what we project. With that line of thinking the more you focus on how stressed you are, the more stress you’re going to feel. You’re going to attract stress and anxiety to you. A quick shift in your mindset, however, can provide instant relaxation.

Next time you’re feeling stressed or fearful, stop your anxiety ridden thoughts and think about five things you’re grateful for. Think about what brings you joy, about the good people in your life, think about what makes you feel happy and good. Sometimes simply thinking about all that you have that’s good can help make the things that are stressing you seem quite insignificant.

Stress is a part of our life. Sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes it’s harmful. If you feel you are chronically anxious or if you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, it’s important to put these three tips to work for you. It’s also important to see a doctor to help determine if you suffer from an anxiety disorder. Stress and anxiety don’t have to rule your life.

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I allow others to help me.

I release the need to try to do everything myself. Other people can do things just as well as I can, and I am relieved that they are ready and willing to help me out. Letting others help me brings with it a whole world of benefits, starting with giving me more time for myself!

At home, I let my children help with the household responsibilities. I start when they are just toddlers with small tasks that they can easily achieve.

As they grow, I teach them how to sort their own laundry and then take care of it themselves. I show them how to cook and clean and then assign tasks for them to do each week. I show them the importance of organization and let them help keep things organized.

As a result, they learn responsibility and each child feels that he is an integral and needed part of the family.

I allow my spouse to help me, too. In fact, we help each other however we can. Household work is always more fun and gets done in half the time when we do it together! Also, when I am feeling down, my spouse shores me up again.

At work, I let my co-workers help me. I delegate tasks to those most suited for it, knowing that they will do a great job. The whole team benefits when we share the work and responsibilities in this way.

When I am trying to solve a problem, I seek advice from those who may have been through the same dilemma. I let their wisdom and experience guide me in my decision.

Today, I give up the superman persona and welcome help from those who would give it.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. Do I tend to resist the help of others?
2. How can I get my children involved in helping around the house?
3. How can I delegate tasks more effectively at work?

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Panic and anxiety are a part of life. However, chronic panic attacks and anxiety can cause a number of surprising side effects. We know that stress in general can cause health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. Panic attacks and chronic anxiety kick it up a notch.

Here are 5 surprising side effects from panic attacks and chronic anxiety.

1. Depression. Chronic anxiety wears on a person’s emotions. They feel out of control and downright exhausted. This can lead to depression. Couple that with the fear of having another panic attack and it’s easy to see why depression is a side effect. In fact, depression is a common symptom or side effect of many anxiety disorders. Anti-depressants can help. However, it’s often better to seek counseling to treat and cure the anxiety disorder.

2. Additional anxiety disorders. You’d think one anxiety disorder would be enough for anyone to deal with. However, many people who are struggling with one anxiety disorder often develop another.

For example, someone with Social Anxiety Disorder may develop agoraphobia – or the fear of leaving their home. People with a General Anxiety Disorder or GAD may develop a panic disorder if the GAD isn’t treated.

3. Phobias. It’s common for people to develop specific phobias as they relate do their fears and anxiety. Agoraphobia is a common phobia that develops for people who have Social Anxiety Disorder.

4. Reduced opportunities and limited lifestyle. As anxiety continues to build and panic attacks begin to occur, it’s not uncommon for people to begin limiting themselves. Anxiety around driving means they don’t go out anymore. Anxiety around performance may mean they skip going to work. Anxiety about relationships may mean they avoid friends and social outings. It’s a sad side effect but also a common one. As panic attacks and anxiety increase, quality of life tends to decrease.

5. Job loss. Chronic panic attacks and anxiety can cause someone to lose their job. When you’re depressed, anxious and tense at work and not interacting with your co-workers, it can affect your performance. It can certainly affect how others perceive you. Unfortunately, job loss can and does happen.

The good news is that while there are myriad side effects for anxiety and panic disorders, they are treatable. And often with proper therapy and lifestyle changes a person can live free from attacks.

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Giving back to the community is my pleasure.

I enjoy giving back to the community through community service, charitable donations, and volunteering. I am constantly looking for new ways to get involved through programs and partnerships.

When I give back to the community, I feel like I am making a difference in the world, one act of kindness at a time. Caring for one another is a human responsibility that we have for each other.

Giving back to my community makes me feel connected to those around me. When I volunteer, I meet other people who share a passion for improving my community. I also meet those who are less fortunate and simply need someone to care.

I can easily be part of the positive change by finding a list of community service events in my area and getting involved, or even starting my own. Whether I read to a child in a school or help build a home for someone, the impact is great.

If I am unable to actively participate during a season due to other commitments, I give financial support to help organizations that reach out on a regular basis to those in need.

Giving back requires that I put others before me and place myself in their shoes. I am blessed to have the ability to give my strength and funds to help others. Giving to others is rewarding!

Today, I reflect on all the blessings I have been given with a thankful heart. From this day forward, I choose to become more involved in my community and share my blessings by offering my time as a volunteer.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. How has my community helped me become who I am?
2. Does my city have a community service calendar where I can volunteer?
3. Is there an organization that I can support financially?

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The Structure of Personal Change

Personal change starts internally with a shift in mindset. The resulting external changes grow from this internal foundation. So now that you know where to start, how do you go about making these adjustments in your approach to life?

To really achieve personal transformation, several major stages must be crossed. Now, this doesn’t mean that change must always take place slowly, only that all significant shifts will follow this sequence, regardless of how long the process takes.

The 6 Stages of Personal Transformation

1. Awareness. Nothing will change until you’re aware that something needs to shift. This stage can occur over time. Perhaps you become aware of some nagging feeling that things aren’t as good as you’d like them to be. Maybe you notice a long held belief that no longer serves you.

* This stage could also happen suddenly. If you recently suffered a heart attack, you’re probably very aware of necessary dietary or lifestyle changes.

* Also, keep tabs on your negative emotions. They’re often your subconscious attempting to provide you with awareness of needed changes.

2. Examination. After becoming conscious that something isn’t quite right, some thought needs to take place. You might start by asking yourself these questions: “What’s wrong? Why do I feel this way? What needs to change? Does anything really need to change? Can I live with this the way it is?”

3. Intention. If the process passes the examination phase, we then may enter into intentionality. A decision has been made to change and the intention is there to remove a belief or behavior and replace it with a more appropriate alternative.

* In many ways, this is the most powerful step. At this point you’ve truly decided to change and to replace something old with something new. With enough intention, nearly anything is possible.

4. Action. However, only with action do you actually begin to experience change. At this point, you’ve already come a long way. You’ve taken what may have started as a dull sense of discomfort and given it a name and a face.

* You might even feel more uncomfortable now than you did in Step 1; now you’re more aware of what’s going on. If you’re feeling helpless about a situation, bear in mind that this is frequently the result of reaching Stage 4 but then failing to take any action.

5. Improvement. As you discover what works for you, your initial actions may be inadequate or incorrect. When changing yourself, a fine-tuning process occurs until a sufficient solution is found. This is largely trial and error. You simply keep making adjustments to your approach until you hit on an effective solution.

6. Integration. This stage may take some time; new habits can require some effort before they take hold. At the completion of this step, you’ve fully adopted the new belief or behavior. The initial discomfort that started the whole process should be gone now, since the cause of that uneasiness has been alleviated.

Having a fundamental awareness of these steps will help you go from experiencing emotional discomfort to feeling whole and satisfied. The next time you get a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, take the time to examine your emotions. Do this every time you feel something negative, and you’ll grow into the person you always dreamed of being.

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Simple, Natural Ways to Treat Anxiety

Occasional anxiety and stress are a part of most people’s lives. However, chronic stress and anxiety can wear you down and cause a number of unwanted side effects. If you suffer from chronic anxiety and don’t want to take medication, rest easy. There are natural ways for you to treat your anxiety successfully.

But please note that if you are suffering from depression or mental health issues that are causing you concerns, it is always best to seek the advice of a medical professional – who knows they may be able to help you implement natural therapies as well as more scientific-based ones.

For those who need a little help to ease stress and general anxiety, here are three simple, natural remedies:

#1 Sunshine. It may sound silly however 20-30 minutes of sunlight each day can do a lot to help improve mindset. Much of this is due to sunlight and your body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body manage stress and it helps you regulate your moods and emotional well being.

The medical community agrees that most people are drastically low on vitamin D. If you cannot get out into the sun each day for 20-30 minutes, take a vitamin D supplement or a multi vitamin with a day’s supply of vitamin D.

#2 Move your body. Exercise is a known stress reducer. And it doesn’t have to be a killer, fat burning intense workout. 30 minutes of walking, bicycling or yoga has the same effect. It helps your body’s systems optimize so you can manage stress better. Also, exercise releases endorphins which are natural feel good hormones.

#3 Meditation. One of the common problems with anxiety is that your thoughts essentially get carried away. One minute you’re thinking about what you’re going to buy for dinner at the super market and the next minute you’re imagining being involved in a horrific traffic accident, not having enough money in your account to cover your grocery bill or knocking over a display and receiving ridicule and laughter. Meditation can help you control these wayward anxiety ridden thoughts. You can learn to quiet your mind and to change your thoughts to more positive ones.

One of the aspects that keeps many people from meditating are the preconceived notions of what it is. Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting on the floor, your legs crossed, chanting for an hour. It can be sitting on a chair with your eyes closed for five minutes and focusing on your breathing. Meditation can also be taking a quiet walk with your dog and clearing your mind of all thoughts. It can also be using your imagination to take you to a relaxing state – guided imagery.

Treating anxiety means treating your mind and your body well. Fuel your body with nutrients, exercise your body and move it like it’s designed to, and learn the practice of quieting your mind. Stress and anxiety will literally melt away.

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Generosity radiates from my soul.

I am a generous person at heart. I consider generosity one of my key personality traits and I like it that way. I enjoy the feeling I get when I share with others; it makes me feel abundantly blessed and deeply fulfilled.

I share everything I can – my knowledge, wisdom, skills, time, love, money, and more. If a friend needs a place to stay, I even share my home.

I am generous because I live by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When I need something, I appreciate it when others share their blessings with me, even if it’s just sharing their wisdom and experience. Likewise, I am happy to help others in their time of need.

My partner and I share and share alike. What one of us has, the other one also receives the benefit of it. Generosity strengthens our relationship.

I even share my generosity! I share what I have with my children and they willingly share with me also. It’s fulfilling to see my children get the same joy from generosity that I experience.

When I share my money with a stranger on the street, I am uplifted in knowing how much I brightened their day.

I know that my generosity is a shining light of goodness in a world that can use all the goodness it can get!

Today, I strive to show generosity to everyone I meet in this day’s journey.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. Do I consider myself a generous person?
2. Why do I hold back in sharing my abundance with others?
3. How can I do more to help others?

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Do you ever feel like every day is the same? You get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and watch TV until you go to bed. You wash, rinse, and repeat. Are you tired of the same ol’ boring routine?

The good news is that you don’t have to settle for a life of boredom and repetition. It takes very little to overcome your stale routine and experience more joy. Sometimes, a night alone in front of the television is the perfect way to unwind. However, sometimes you crave something a little out of the ordinary. Thankfully, there are many things you can do about it.

Try one of these boredom-busting activities to liven up your day:

1. Spend Time With A Friend. Sometimes, the best way to cure boredom is to visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Catch up on old times and talk about the things that are important to both of you. Do something together that you both enjoy. Choose an activity you haven’t done in a while and reconnect.

* Even when you’re feeling down and you’d rather be alone, try visiting a friend. Often, even a short visit can bring an unexpected feeling of joy. Plus, you’ll be doing something active instead of sitting at home and feeling blue about your challenges.

2. Hit the Driving Range. Even if you’re not a golfer, hitting a bucket of golf balls as far as you can provides tremendous stress relief. Go with some friends and have a blast! When you get outdoors in the sunshine, your focus is bound to change and your perspective on life will be a much happier one.

3. Visit Libraries and Bookstores. If you prefer peace and quiet, experience adventure without ever leaving your own familiar area. Visit your local library or a bookstore that encourages you to sit down and read. Many bookstores now offer coffee shops inside and comfortable chairs for those who want to sit a while.

* Learn a new skill or engross yourself in a novel that takes your mind far away from the mundane cares of your everyday life.

* You can even meet new people while you’re perusing the literature. Strike up a conversation with someone who has similar interests. You may just meet a new best friend who goes on to introduce you to many more exciting activities.

4. Play Board Games. With the rise of video games and other forms of electronic entertainment, you may have forgotten how much fun board games can be!

* Enjoy a few laughs with friends or family and your favorite board games of the past. Or try some of the newer board games. Whether the games are old or new, you’ll still make some great memories!

If you want to spice up your life and experience something different, the options available to you are endless. The only limit is an unwillingness to leave your comfort zone. If you’re proactive about getting out and enjoying some new experiences, you’ll be rewarded with a deeper connection to the world around you and a greater satisfaction with your life.

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Taking a Sensible Approach to Selflessness

According to most religious traditions and many scientific studies, selflessness is the path to happiness. Still, some people contest that they must put themselves first to avoid getting burned out or feeling like a doormat. This doesn’t have to be true, though!

If you take a sensible approach to selflessness, you can take care of your own wellbeing while helping those around you. Try these techniques and see if you don’t feel just a little bit better about yourself and your life.

Strategies for Avoiding Burnout

1. Take care of yourself. Protecting your own wellbeing is essential to maintaining the capacity to serve others. Take care of your own physical and mental health so you stay strong and have as many years as possible to do good works for yourself and others.

2. Develop reliable sources of self-esteem. Cultivate the awareness that you and all creatures have value, regardless of anything you or they accomplish. Tap into inner sources of validation and motivation.

3. Manage stress. Keeping stress under control allows you to get more done with less effort. Get a full eight hours of sleep each night, or whatever amount you need to keep you operating at your individual best. Engage in regular exercise and find hobbies you enjoy.

4. Set realistic goals. Become a humanitarian on whatever scale is feasible for you. If the idea of moving to Haiti to work in an orphanage makes you nervous, you can still volunteer to clean up your local park on weekends or help your aging neighbors with their yard work.

5. Work as a team. When you’re embarking on a challenge, having partners is helpful. Recruit family and friends to join you in starting a community garden where everyone will share the harvest. Then, donate fresh produce to local shelters.

6. Remember to be grateful. You probably enjoy any opportunity to do something nice for people you love. The more you remember how much your welfare depends on the efforts of others to provide you with food and other necessities, the more you’ll want to give something back to your community.

7. Meditate or pray. Studies show that decreases in activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain cause people to behave more selflessly – regardless of whether the cause is brain injury, meditation, or prayer. Naturally, you want to steer clear of brain injuries. But anyone can use prayer or secular meditation to strengthen their capacity for altruism.

Strategies to Avoid Feeling Like a Doormat

1. Make smart investments. Being discriminating about where you choose to give is perfectly okay. You may be more willing to provide free babysitting for a relative who’s going on a job interview rather than for one who’s getting their nails done.

2. Empower others. The greatest gifts enable people to do more for themselves. Teach your friends how to fix their own minor computer problems. Not only will they be pleased to have that knowledge the next time they need it for themselves, they’ll be able to pass those skills along.

3. Give without expecting immediate returns. You’re less likely to experience resentment or disappointment if you look beyond getting thanked directly. By focusing on bettering other people’s lives and increasing your own happiness, you’re bound to feel gratified.

4. Learn to say no. Being selfless is consistent with declining certain requests for assistance. Let people know tactfully, but firmly, when you’re unable to help out. This is especially true in cases where such assistance could be harmful, like giving money to someone who gambles.

5. Observe positive role models. Generosity is contagious. Pay attention to the acts of kindness you see around you and they’ll inspire you to reach out, too.

Make your life more meaningful and enjoy greater happiness through becoming more selfless. This practice is beneficial for you and everyone you encounter. Giving feels good when you develop positive motivation and make sensible choices.

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