3. VOLUNTEERISM Volunteering is often overlooked as a resource for the person volunteering rather than simply the person (or community) benefiting from the help. Volunteerism has been scientifically shown to benefit both our mental and physical health. According to Stephanie Watson’s 2013 article in the Harvard Health Blog, “Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression.” Additionally, Watson cites a 2013 research study from Carnegie Mellon University, published in the journal Psychology and Aging, indicating volunteering is also good for our physical health, actually lowering blood pressure. Aside from all of these good vibes, volunteering is a great way to meet new people while engaging in meaningful work. And if the idea of volunteering conjures up images that don’t seem necessarily appealing to some men (the nursery at church, homework assistance at a local school, sitting on a finance committee arguing over budgets), think outside the box when it comes to donating your time. Volunteer with an organization like Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for families in need. Volunteers actually wield the hammers, paint the walls and do a variety of other handson, in-the-sunshine work that gets the blood and the brain pumping. Volunteers for the Red Cross can be trained in disaster response and sent out as part of crisis response teams, traveling the country (and sometimes the world) to aid those who are in need. Not only can you use existing skills to make a difference, you can learn new ones and, in the process, connect with new people who offer friendship, community and shared experience.
As we all move into the second phase of life, men and women alike, our worlds will naturally shift. We’ll move, retire, begin new jobs, end old friendships and look forward toward developing new connections and relationships. For some men, many of whom relied on work or spouses for social connection, this can be challenging. It may take time, effort and a shift in perspective, but there are opportunities for rich connection, socializing and shared experience for men who are shifting careers, transitioning into and out of old relationships or simply arriving at the next stage (and place) of life. Though it may seem awkward at first, and there will be inevitable stops and starts, pursuing new relationships and building solid connections are sure-fire ways to grow, thrive and build a support system unique to who you are today, in this moment, in this place. 30
OutreachNC.com | DECEMBER 2018
The Trading Traditions Issue