Make A Difference Day is one of the largest annual single days of service nationwide. Thousands of volunteers across the country unite with a common mission: to improve the lives of others through a wide range of community-driven service projects. Make A Difference Day began in 1992 and takes place annually on the fourth Saturday in October.
Why do we help others? Yes, it is the right thing to do. But did you know that it also makes us happier and healthier? I know it may be a bit selfish to look at how being kind is beneficial to us personally, but the recent science surrounding kindness is so fascinating that we can’t ignore it.
Benefits Of Making A Difference
Doing good makes us feel good. Whether it is sending a donation, holding a door for a stranger, or volunteering on a weekly basis at a nature center, study after study proves that acts of kindness make us feel happier and healthier.
Our brain chemistry actually changes when we do something nice for others or our community overall. Research shows that thinking about, watching, or practicing kindness stimulates the vagus nerve, which is linked to the production of oxytocin in our brain. Oxytocin is a hormone that soothes us, making us feel calmer and happier.
Kindness also triggers the production of dopamine, the hormone responsible for positive emotions and that natural high feeling we get. As a result, we experience positive health changes including: increased life expectancy, feeling less lonely, stronger immune system, fewer aches and pains, a decrease in stress and anxiety, and less depression.
How To Add Nature To Make A Difference Day
When we combine volunteerism with outdoor time, we experience so many incredible health benefits while also helping our community. Here are some ways to celebrate make a difference day with a nature twist.
Set your intention with a nature lovingkindness meditation. Lovingkindness meditation is the practice of directing positive thoughts and well wishes to ourselves and others. Practicing this type of meditation can cause us to feel less isolated and more connected to the world around us as we shift the way we view ourselves and others to kindness instead of negativity. The meditation actually leads to positive changes in the brain, bringing benefits such as reducing stress and anxiety and lifting our mood. We can tweak the traditional lovingkindness meditation practice by sending love and kindness specifically to nature. Try the meditation.
Discover nature volunteering opportunities for your family. There are so many different types of nature-related activities to choose from, such as tree plantings and beach cleanups. Finding the right family volunteer activities can be overwhelming at times. You may feel uncertain about what is expected and question whether your children can participate in the activity. It is so important that your family members feel comfortable where you volunteer, get inspired by the work you do, and enjoy themselves. Without these three components, you won’t reap all the amazing benefits of volunteering. Learn how to find the best nature volunteer activities for your family.
Become an environmental activist. We have some massive environmental challenges to tackle like climate change, plastic in our ocean, air and water pollution, factory farms, and environmental justice. While these topics may sometimes tempt us to crawl under a rock and ignore what’s going on, getting involved in our community through environmental activism as a family can actually help us feel happier and calmer and make a difference in both our local community and the global community. Learn how to get involved in environmental activism.
Spread random acts of kindness. Help spread love and kindness throughout the world. Even the smallest act of kindness can improve someone’s day or even change their life, such as offering to walk a neighbor’s dog or growing your own flowers and giving them out at a nursing home. Check out more nature-related ideas for random acts of kindness.
Looking for more? My book is filled with community service ideas involving nature. Click below to get your copy.