Sometimes it can seem over whelming when we stop and think of all of the things we want to be, or feel like we should be doing, in life. And sometimes it’s a lack of knowing what to do or where to start that keeps us frozen on the spot and ending up doing nothing.
Two areas where I find that people can really get stuck or frozen not knowing what to do are in giving back, and getting (or staying) active. That’s why I thought it would be fun to talk about a few ways we can combine the two and add a bit more movement to our lives, while also giving back at the same time!
Now before I get any further into this post, there are some very important ways you can give back and stay active that I’m not going to be talking about in my list. Things like being a volunteer firefighter, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, local charities, etc. The reason I’m not putting those on my list is because those groups and programs are a bit more traditional forms of giving back, and while needed, require a certain amount of commitment. For many people starting out, the commitment required can be a bit of a deterrent. Instead I’m going to share a few ideas of ways you can add a bit more activity to your day or week without much (or in some cases any) commitment.
Let’s get started!
1) Visit Your Local Animal Shelter
Our new kitties Rose and Clara came from our local SPCA. Over the years, we’ve donated money, food and supplies to the shelter but it wasn’t until I went in to meet the girls that I realized how easy it is to go in and hang out with the cats waiting for their forever homes.
For some reason, I always thought the animals were hidden out back somewhere but in reality all I had to do was turn around and I would have seen them! It’s important that people take the time to spend with these lovely animals to give them love and attention. That way, when they go to their new homes they will be ready to give and receive love. I know the workers and volunteers spend as much time as they can with them but with so many little creatures to take care of, I’m sure it’s hard for them to give everyone the attention they want. Cuddling cats might not seem like a very active thing to do, but if you stay and play with some kittens while you are there, you’ll certainly get some movement in. Those little devils get into EVERYTHING!
I know our local shelter is also always looking for dog walkers and once you are signed up, I think you can drop in anytime during open hours to sign out a doggy friend for a walk. Not only are you both getting outside for some exercise, but you are also helping that dog or puppy get or stay used to people and walking on a leash.
The best part about this one (aside from the kitty/puppy/bunny snuggles) is that you don’t have to be an “official” volunteer. For the cats, you can drop in whenever they are open and for the dog walkers, I believe you have to fill out a form once. From then on, it’s just a matter of dropping in when you want to go for a walk.
In fact, I’ve read about some shelters who advertised that you could “rent” a dog to walk for a few dollars for people playing Pokemon Go who wanted to look a little less conspicuous. The money they charged went back to the shelter, the dog’s got walked and the Pokemon Go people got to collect Pokemon. Apparently some shelters ended up with a waiting list by advertising that way!
2) Grow Fresh Vegetables For The Food Bank
If you plant a veggie garden each summer already, why not add an extra row or two and plant some extra vegetables to grow for the food bank? They are always thrilled with donations of fresh fruits and vegetables and when you already have the land and seeds/plants, the added cost of another row or two is pretty minor.
Tending a garden certainly helps to keep you more active and growing your own food helps you save money and eat healthier. Then, you get the added benefit of feeling good about doing something so wonderful to help the lives of others. You can be sure the users of the food bank will love you when they get some of your wonderful produce!
3) Volunteer At A Local Family Centre or Kids Group
In most communities, there are lots of groups who are always looking for people with skills to offer to come in and teach a group of kids or adults something new. Many of these groups operate through funding and are able to offer their programs free of charge, making them a great place to volunteer your time for an hour, an afternoon, or a day.
As a fitness instructor, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer my time for many different groups, including our local Family Resource Centre and it has always been fun and rewarding to bring something new to the lives of people who may never have experienced Zumba or Yoga before.
I realize that as a fitness instructor, it’s easy for me to offer my skills/services but even if you feel like you don’t know what you could possibly teach others, I promise you there is something. Something that you are fabulous at doing that others would love to learn. Maybe you could teach others how to dance the Fox Trot, teach them how to knit a scarf or crochet dish cloths. Maybe cooking is more your specialty, or crafts. And while it might sound like teaching a small group of people how to knit wouldn’t keep you very active, one thing I know is this – no matter what you are teaching, the teacher stays pretty darn active moving from one person to the next helping, answering questions and whatnot.
I hope this has given you some ideas on how you can add more movement into your life while giving back at the same time. I know life is busy and it is hard to do all the things we feel we “should” do, but these two are things that can really change your life for the better.
What are some other ways you can think of to stay active while giving back? I’d love to hear your ideas – please leave me a comment and let me know what you would add to the list!