Make time for yourself – and your community

The start of winter, which in Winnipeg feels like November 1st, provides the perfect opportunity to take stock of the past year, with just a taste of cold and snow to slow things down and before the craziness of Christmas quite begins.

Getting through our winter takes a lot, so taking care of yourself is important, and from elections to celebrities, talk about mental health is all over and for good reason, but it is not the whole picture. Caring for your well-being needs attention and energy, but also is part of caring for the people and world around you.

We are all part of a community, even beyond our immediate family and friends. Not only is it important for us all to care for those who are vulnerable or need support, giving back through our time and skills benefits those in need, as well as our own happiness and satisfaction.

Research shows that volunteering reduces stress, depression, and feelings of isolation and increases confidence and happiness. Volunteering provides care and support, in addition to the benefits of building relationships and purpose, and it helps with university and scholarship applications or resumes for any young people with time free over the winter break or after school.

Even once a month can make a big difference to an organization, or even to the people assisted directly, and creates a community for everyone involved. Taking a little time out to lend a hand is not that difficult, especially at one of the amazing non-profits right in St. Vital.

There are many organizations that make a major difference to our local community, including the Youville Centre, 845 Dakota St. #6,  a community health centre, and St. Amant at 440 River Rd., which offers volunteer positions in many areas, like visiting, child care, gardening. For a fun and festive alternative, St. Amant also needs gift wrappers to raise donations at St. Vital Centre through the holidays.

St Amant Pic

St Amant Volunteer Orientation Session. Source: St.Amant‏ @StAmantMB, Jul 21 2019. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/StAmantMB/status/1153055049179901953

Personal gifts, like care baskets, hampers, or even cookies are welcome anywhere from shelters or resource and health centres to nursing homes, or even a neighbour. Even if you don’t have time to volunteer on an on-going basis, the holiday season is a great time to find a way to give back, even if it is just finding time on day or evening, or organizing a toy or clothing drive will make a difference to our local community and to your own well-being.

This article was originally published on November 18, 2019 in the Winnipeg Free Press.

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