I've been volunteering since high school - from tutoring math to special needs students, to being a Big Sister or reading to the blind. I just love when I reach out to others and help - expecting nothing in return, yet getting so much! The feeling of connection and hope.
The only period in my life I didn't volunteer was when I was actively drinking and isolating.
According to a 2015 publication of the National Library of Medicine, Addiction/alcoholism is a socially isolating disease. 'It has recently been argued that the primary driver of drug addiction is not chemicals but rather the isolation, pain, and distress experienced by users (Hari, 2015).'
Isolation kept me cut off from community and kept me tied to a bottle. Research shows that social support and giving help to others "significantly reduces the risk of relapse." So, getting out of the house and helping others helps keep us sober! It also gets us out of our heads where we can get caught up in resentments, sadness, and self pity.
Luckily during the holidays, there are hundreds of opportunities to get out and do some good; visit the elderly in nursing homes and just chat or listen, distribute toys/food/clothing to the needy, serve meals at a shelter, etc. If you can't think of something, just Google "volunteer opportunities near me."
Volunteering and service gets me out of myself. It connects me to others with compassion and empathy. It opens my eyes with gratitude and appreciation for all I have. Service doesn't just keep me sober. It makes me a better and more compassionate person.
If you don't think giving to others can make you happier, just look at Santa Claus. Ho, ho, ho.
Tomorrow is Day 7! A whole week of tips and two more weeks to go!