Looking for a way to spend more quality time with your children while also pulling them away from their screens and getting them outdoors? Try volunteering outside in nature together. You’ll be combining two activities that will help you feel happier, healthier, and calmer—being outdoors and giving back to your community.
Spending Time Outdoors In Nature Is Beneficial To Our Health And Well-being
The natural world offers solace and comfort, calming us down when we are feeling stressed and uplifting our mood when we are feeling sad. In fact, spending time outdoors has been proven to naturally reduce our stress response and help us recover from stressful situations more quickly. A series of reports by the Wildlife Trusts in the last couple of years found that volunteering outdoors enhances positive emotions and increases general health.
Volunteering Provides Many Social, Emotional, and Health Benefits
When we give back to our community, we can experience a physiological change called a “helper’s high.” This euphoric physical sensation happens when our brain releases endorphins, making us feel elated and excited. As a result, we can experience positive health changes including less stress and anxiety and a boost in mood. Volunteering can also help us stay healthy and live longer. According to Psychology Today, volunteers are happier and healthier than those who do not volunteer.
Children love to spend time outdoors, even if they aren’t doing it as much these days. Next time you are looking for a fun family activity to enjoy together, head outdoors to try one of these volunteer projects:
Beach and Park Cleanups
One way to keep beaches and parks pristine is to participate in a trash cleanup. Many volunteers feel more connected to nature and less stressed after spending time outside cleaning up their local beach or park. This is a really easy activity to do with your kids either on your own or through an organized group. Such cleanups are becoming more popular now that the issue of plastic pollution has come to the forefront.
Work With Animals
Most children love to spend time with animals, so this is a great option for a family-friendly volunteer project. Caring for and spending time with a lovable creature has so many positive benefits for all ages. There are many ways to volunteer your time to help animals outdoors, whether it be at a nature center, zoo, horse ranch, or animal shelter. For example, many animal shelters need volunteers to walk the dogs at their facility. This is a great activity to do with your children and get some exercise at the same time.
Tree Or Flower Planting
A lovely way to help beautify your community is to plant trees, flowers, or other vegetation. This is such a positive, hands-on activity for children because they will get to see the impact they can
have. Many towns host planting events and have goals to plant a certain number of trees annually. Check out Tree City USA for information in your area.
Look for opportunities to volunteer in community gardens, which increase green space, build positive community interaction, and many even provide fresh produce to those in need. Gardening in itself is known to improve health, so take your kids along for a pleasant afternoon of planting seeds, watering the garden, weeding, and picking fresh produce.
Check out these resources to find outdoor volunteering opportunities for your family in your area:
- Check websites like Idealist, Volunteer Match, Create The Good, and Just Serve.
- Search for environmental organizations in your area.
- Contact your city’s sustainability or environmental director.
- Find beach cleanups here: Ocean Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation, volunteercleanup.org.
About the author:
Sandi Schwartz is a freelance writer/blogger and mother of two. She has written extensively about parenting, wellness, and environmental issues. You can find her at Happy Science Mom.