From helping one day a week to spending two years abroad, volunteering has been part of my life for many years now. I love the causes that I support and I feel doing it. But time to time, I take a break and refill myself with new motivations.
Taking a break as a volunteer is essential, volunteering is a full-time job, and as you need vacations from your job, you need vacations from your volunteering. It doesn’t matter if you help your community once a month or if you traveled to another country to dedicate six months to a non-profit, you need to find the time to breathe.
If you are full timing volunteering I will recommend taking a break after 3 months and come back full of energy, on the other hand, if you give your time every once in a while I will recommend having some rest after a full year.
Refresh your brain
Going away is really important for yourself and for the cause you are dedicating your time, it is really necessary to step out and think about other stuff. Dedicating 24 hours of your day to a project can be really exhausted for your brain and your soul.
Every post on the internet about dealing with a creativity block will tell you to step back for a while to break that block, go for a run, take a shower, listen to music… then come back and be the best version of yourself. Same thing when you are a volunteer, step back, go to the beach for the weekend, take some vacation and come back stronger than ever.
Time for yourself
Volunteering is definitely not about you, it’s about helping others. That’s an amazing tweet or Tumblr post but not completely true. Volunteering is also about you as a person, to be able to help others you have to be comfortable with yourself.
Dedicating time for yourself is not selfish, it´s smart. We focus so much on the causes or on accomplishing a project that we forget about taking care of ourselves, that’s unacceptable! Feeling good is what makes the volunteer experience awesome, so treat yourself as a priority.
We take the volunteering so serious and passionate that we forget to look around. That is good for a short time, but it will consume you little by little.
During these years abroad, I met a lot of volunteers who didn’t visit the country where they were volunteering, unbelievable right? But sadly true, they become so obsessed with the project and so tired, that they didn’t have the strength to go anywhere else.
Take some days off and discover where you are, the cause will be there when you come back, and you will feel much better because you finally know how is the place where you are, you will relate more to the people and understand better their situation, it’s a win-win.
Rethink your why
When taking a break it is nice to think about what bring you to volunteer in the first place. Find your passion again! You´ve been so many years volunteering that it becomes a routine, that´s not going to help anyone!
Volunteering is good, it’s what you supposed to do, it’s returning to the community what they give you… all these reasons are awesome for a flyer but volunteering is more than that, it´s a passion that fills you inexplicably.
Time to time, take some distance and consider your motivations and reasons for volunteering, find what makes you passionate about it and breathe that energy again!
Having a break can also bring you unexpected results like new ideas, a revelation, new friends with whom share the cause, time to research or to attend seminars… The list is endless!
You never know what can come out of this time that you are resting for your volunteering.
Are you ready again?
After your break, don’t jump into your cause quickly, don’t start another monthly commitment right away, especially if you don’t feel it. If after that time off, you still don’t feel the passion or you just feel an obligation to return, maybe that´s not your cause and it’s ok.
It´s plenty of volunteer opportunities and non-profit organizations who need volunteers, you can find volunteering spots in almost everywhere in the world, so don’t feel obligated to come back to the same one just because your friend goes there or because you´ve been a supporter for the last year, it´s okay to say no!
Go on the internet and find that organization that makes you feel excited and enthusiastic again, it can be on a farm or in a school, it can be with children or animals, the options are boundless. The only important thing it’s that you believe in the cause and inspire you!