QLC (Quarter Life Crisis) is the buzzword of the moment. If you've got to the stage where it feels like something might be missing from your life, or you're panicking about not having achieved as much as you thought you would by now, volunteering to help other women might be the answer to feeling more fulfilled.
Quarter life crises seem to be on the rise, with more and more 25 to 35-year-olds questioning whether they truly feel fulfilled in their lives and careers. But if you feel that something may be lacking, dumping your partner for a Harry Styles look-alike or dip dyeing your hair pink is not the answer. Signing up to help other women in your spare time might just be, though.
Research has shown that volunteering has positive psychological effects, by alleviating stress, and helping you to learn new skills and meet new people. It can also improve your work-life balance, by allowing you to switch off psychologically from your every day life.
‘Volunteering and mentoring engenders a sense of fulfillment and wellbeing by allowing you to connect closely and emphatically with somebody,’ explains chartered psychologist Gail Kinman.
Altruistic activities also reinforce the belief that you’re doing something worthwhile with your time. ‘The majority want to feel like they have a purpose in life,’ says psychologist Sue Firth. ‘Work isn’t always an outlet for this, as some people don’t work in areas they feel they are gifted in. Through mentoring and volunteering you can feel like you have had a significant influence on someone's life and that represents a huge personal gain.’
The desire to help other women is also instinctive for most of us. ‘Women have an innate desire to mentor and support, and it is the most natural choice to help other women,’ explains Sue.
So, with this in mind, we’ve highlighted the ways in which you can help three different groups of women - those just starting out, those in crisis and the elderly - while also gaining greater satisfaction from your own life.
Mentor younger women: Why not sign up to become a mentor with an organisation that connects girls with experienced women who can offer professional and personal guidance? If you have gained success, particularly in a male-dominated industry, you will be aware of the difficulties that young women can face professionally. ‘Some women feel they can get a rough deal and have to push through in a masculine work environment,’ says Sue. ‘Through mentoring other women, you can feel like you’re giving a leg up to someone who has to push hard to succeed.’ This can be hugely rewarding, as you bask in the glow of your mentee’s success and gratitude.
Help vulnerable women: Two women a week are killed due to domestic violence and charities like Refuge rely on the goodwill of individuals to help those suffering from abuse. You can contribute by organising fundraising events with your friends – anything from sponsored cycle rides to netball tournaments – or by volunteering.
This could involve working for the National Domestic Violence Helpline, helping out at Refuge’s head office in London or working with women and children in one of the charity’s services. You can even make a difference by donating your old mobile phone. Visit Refuge’s website or check out Women’s Aid for more information on how you can help vulnerable women.
Visit older women: Older women, particularly widows who live alone, can often suffer from isolation and loneliness. Volunteer with a charity like Age UK and you could help improve the quality of life of elderly people in your community. The charity runs a wide range of volunteering schemes: you could help someone deal with the death of a loved one or visit people who live alone. Check out the Age UK website for more information on volunteering opportunities in your area. Or, if you’re an animal lover looking for an excuse to get outdoors more, why not sign up to become a dogwalker for The Cinnamon Trust? This nationwide charity connects volunteers with elderly pet owners, who are no longer able to provide the exercise their dog needs.
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