Managing Workplace Stress is Even
More Critical While Volunteering.


Managing workplace stress is something about which we must be diligent at all times and this doesn't just apply to paid employment; it's also true when we volunteer. When we volunteer in a healthy, constructive way, our bodies produce good hormones, such as Oxytocin and Dopamine, but when volunteering is stressful, our bodies are assaulted with destructive hormones, such as Adrenaline and Cortisol. It is so important that we don't let volunteering create more stress than it solves.

Have you thought about your reasons to volunteer? Have you ever considered the need to be good at managing workplace stress in volunteer settings? Maybe you have and maybe you haven't. How many of us ever make a real plan about the volunteer jobs we do? Many of us never think about managing workplace stress at all, unless we are getting paid. But that is exactly the problem and because of that, our sense of generosity can sometimes get the better of us.

Good volunteer appreciation programs, for example, can go a long way, in terms of managing workplace stress, but very few organizations do a good job of making us feel appreciated for the volunteer work we do.  More often than not, we are heaped up with politics and bureaucracy and no one ever thinks to say thank you. As a result, it is very easy to get your feelings hurt.

Without a clear understanding as to why we volunteer, it really doesn't take much for the benefits of volunteering to be forgotten as we engage in politics and personal agendas.  Managing workplace stress, no matter if the environment is paid or not, is critical in overall stress management.

Have you ever been on a board of directors? Have you ever had a child involved with a youth activity such as Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts or hockey or soccer? Have you ever gotten involved with a volunteer ministry at your church? Maybe you have helped out in an election campaign, at the local food bank, at your child's school or perhaps you are a member of a service club such as Rotary or Kiwanis.

It all seems innocent and harmless enough, but people are people and they can be hard to get along with. There is often conflict in the volunteer workplace. The need for training in managing workplace stress, even in volunteer settings, is critically important if these organizations are going to be able to provide the services they are supposed to provide.

It may seem strange to talk about reciprocal wellness.  You might ask, "How can my willingness to help in the community cause problems as far as wellness is concerned? But it can cause huge problems for your own wellness and the wellness of others.  Poorly managing workplace stress, in volunteer settings can lead to the creation of massive stress hormones that are very destructive, just like any other stressors. In fact, volunteering can be a stressful experience for everyone concerned if not managed well. The benefits of volunteering can be lost completely if we are not careful.

Managing Workplace Stress
28 Benefits of Volunteering

  • To change the world
  • To make someone’s day
  • To have fun
  • To develop new skills
  • To make sure you graduate
  • To help you get into university or college
  • To gain some respect
  • To pursue a special interest
  • To try something new
  • To feel connected with the world
  • To do something you like to do
  • To do something you care about
  • To explore different career paths
  • To find your purpose
  • To support a cause you believe in
  • To do something about a need in your community
  • To develop personal and professional contacts
  • To gain more confidence
  • To have a sense of accomplishment
  • To build up your resume
  • To meet others who share your interests
  • To get over your fears
  • To develop your people skills
  • To set a goal and see it through
  • To learn to manage your time better
  • To show your folks you can make a difference
  • To impress your friends
  • To impress yourself

As you can see, the benefits of volunteering listed above make this wonderful community practice sound like an amazing opportunity and volunteering can really be incredible; however, it takes more than just good intentions to have a good volunteer experience. People who do the things on the above list are probably good at managing workplace stress as well as all types of stress in their lives. Unfortunately, these are not the only behaviors that exist in volunteer settings.

Effectively managing workplace stress is not always easy to achieve and it should never be assumed that people know how to do it well. Just like anything else, reciprocal wellness is everyone's responsibility. A person's behavior in a volunteer position is just as important as the initial reasons to volunteer.

Managing Workplace Stress
29 Behaviors to Avoid when Volunteering

  • Spreading gossip
  • Micromanaging others
  • Not following through on commitments
  • Forming cliques
  • Using scare tactics to manipulate other well-meaning volunteers
  • Bringing a personal agenda (especially a negative one)
  • Monopolizing meetings
  • Not attending meetings
  • Being late for meetings
  • Spreading yourself too thin, taking on too much
  • Subversive bullying
  • Emotionally abusing paid employees or other volunteers
  • Being too sensitive and taking things too personally
  • Not staying informed
  • Putting down or knocking the organization
  • Looking the other way when problems happen
  • Speaking for others without their permission
  • Not doing your best
  • Participating in unethical activities
  • Participating in illegal activities
  • Participating in immoral activities
  • Wasting the organization's time
  • Wasting the organization's money
  • Wasting the organization's resources
  • Staying involved after you have lost interest
  • Creating problems
  • Complaining and griping about everything
  • Being judgmental of other volunteers and staff
  • Being negative all the time.

Avoiding negative behaviors will help, of course, but to get the most out of volunteering from a stress management perspective, you want everyone to get really good at managing workplace stress, so everyone can have a truly great experience as a volunteer.

Below is a list of 29 behaviors you can share with your co-volunteers or your volunteer supervisors. This list can even be used for training purposes to help make managing workplace stress while volunteering much better.

Let's all work hard to make our own volunteer experience and that of everyone else truly fantastic. If you do these things, you will go a long way toward making sure that your initial reasons to volunteer do not become regrets.

29 Ways To Get Started
Managing Workplace Stress While Volunteering
Get The Real Benefits Of Volunteering.

  • Smile
  • Find reasons to be thankful
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Respect people's privacy and confidentiality
  • Be a good ambassador for the organization
  • Work out conflicts respectfully and peacefully
  • Speak only for yourself
  • Show up a few minutes early and stay a few minutes late to meetings
  • Follow e-mail etiquette guideline - DON'T ABUSE E-MAIL
  • Stay a few minutes late to meetings
  • Take on only the tasks you can manage within your schedule
  • Leave your ego at home
  • Ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed
  • Have a positive attitude
  • Show your appreciation of others
  • Be a part of the solution
  • Be honest and ethical
  • Don't make mountains out of molehills
  • Stay within the bounds of the law
  • Keep your defensiveness in check
  • If your toes are being stepped on, pull in your feet
  • Lend a hand, even if it's not your job, if you have the time
  • Stay in communication and stay informed
  • Be resourceful
  • Don't be afraid to share your ideas
  • Get your friends involved
  • Say thank you to the organizers
  • Leave the organization if you start to hate it
  • Report problems before they become too big

We all have a responsibility to be good stewards of reciprocal wellness. Managing workplace stress is not just about paid employment. Just wanting the benefits of volunteering is simply not enough. There is far more to generosity that just "what's in it for me" thinking. How you conduct yourself each and everyday will not only help you have a better volunteer experience but it will help others to enjoy their volunteer experiences as well.

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