Are you feeling gloomy and depressed or overwhelmed by all the bad news in your life?
Isaiah has some advice for us. “Offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
In other words God seems to be saying, “Forget yourself, for a little while, and focus on helping others who are suffering.”
Hirshel Jaffe, called The Running Rabbi says, “For over 20 years as a rabbi, before my illness, I had helped others through crisis. I was supposed to have all the answers. Yet when I got sick, I discovered I didn’t have them. I felt confused, frightened and desperate. My experience with serious illness has made me want to share with you what I’ve learned. When my physicians noticed how depressed I was in the hospital, they said, ‘Be a rabbi—go and counsel other patients.’ That made me feel important again. My friends fighting cancer and other diseases tell me the same thing: Helping others cope is the one good thing they can do, the one good thing they feel qualified to do, and the one good thing they find real fulfillment in doing.”
Following are some comments on the value of helping others. Here are three ways volunteering can help you feel less gloomy and depressed:
Increases self-confidence. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
Combats depression. Reducing the risk of depression is another important benefit of volunteering. A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times.
Helps you stay physically healthy. Volunteering is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.
Help us Lord to forget about ourselves for a brief time and reach out and care for others. Amen.