“I’d really like to be able to start working again, but I just can’t right now.” “I feel like I can’t do anything.” “I’m no use to anyone.” “I’m so lonely and bored.” I hear these things a lot.
Human beings are social creatures. We crave contact with other human beings, and chronic pain can get in the way of that. When we have reduction in human contact, we get depressed and anxious, and that makes pain even worse. Human brains crave stimulation, and when we feel incapable of doing anything other than sitting at home, we get bored and frustrated, which makes pain worse. This is especially common at this time of year, when it gets dark early, and it’s cold and icy outside. It seems so hard to do anything.
Having a job can offset much of that depression, anxiety, boredom and isolation, but not everyone is able to work a full time, or even a part time job. Volunteering can be a perfect option. A volunteer job does not have the same expectations or constraints as a paid job. You can work a few hours a month, or a few days a week. People are counting on you, and you are helping them out, in a way that is manageable for you. You often don’t need to have special training, but some volunteer jobs can make use of your particular skills and talents.
Volunteering can be anything from walking dogs or playing with cats at an animal shelter, to manning the church thrift shop, reading to young children at a library or after-school program, or driving a blind person to work. Places looking for volunteers include senior centers, churches, libraries, schools/after-school programs, nursing homes, animal shelters, hospitals, food pantries, and the list goes on and on.
Sometimes a place will have all the volunteers they need right now, but they will put you on a list for the future. Sometimes volunteers need to meet certain criteria, like being over age 60 to volunteer at a senior center. Make a list of 5-6 places you think you’d like to try, and don’t get discouraged if the first few turn you down.
This is the season of giving (heck, every season should be the season of giving) and we ALL have something to give. Some websites that list volunteer opportunities are allforgood.org, volunteermatch.org, and createthegood.org.
At North Shore Pain Management we provide advanced, evidence based, multidisciplinary and cost effective pain management. Our goal is to improve your ability to return to the activities you have been missing as well as provide a meaningful reduction in pain.