Self-Care Challenge (Day 188): Volunteering at a Community Garden

On day 188 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I volunteered at a community garden.

Volunteerism isn’t something we usually associate with self-care (maybe that’s why some people still believe self-care is selfish), but giving to others is a great opportunity to build and nurture meaningful relationships within our community – a critical component of any solid self-care practice.

After all, our relationships play a direct role in our health. When we surround ourselves with others who share similar goals, we’re able to sustain higher levels of motivation to continue pushing forward. And when we spend time with people who are encouraging and supportive, their positivity rubs off on us. This is why having a diverse network of connections makes us stronger.

My self-care practice for the day was to volunteer at my local community garden, something I’ve really enjoyed doing in the past.

The smell of rosemary hit me before I even made it out of the parking lot. As I walked closer, it was clear that someone’s job for the day was to tame a few of the large, aromatic shrubs.

The garden always seems to offer fun surprises like that.

Being there not only allowed me to make a real contribution to my community (all the harvest goes to the local food bank), but it also gave me the opportunity to meet some fantastic people. As we pulled weeds, we chatted about what we’ve been up to this summer. Falaah, the coordinator of the garden, is an amazing connector and always finds a way to bring like-interested people together.

Volunteering at the garden also gave me a chance to expand my knowledge of plants, getting to know some new varieties and learning more about some that I was already familiar with. I learned how to identify weeds I’d never seen before, and I even learned that a few of them are edible. It reminded me of our trip to the Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead last fall. What a great experience that was. For each task we were given, there were an exponential number of related lessons.

And although I was there working as part of a group, I managed to enjoy some quiet time as I pulled weeds in a small corner of the garden. Weed-pulling can be quite therapeutic if you can allow yourself to relax into it. Volunteering just feels good, and it’s hard not to see how it can have a positive impact on our health.

If there isn’t a community garden in your area, volunteer to pull some weeds for a neighbor who may need some help. You might be surprised by how uplifting it is for your spirit.

Where do you like to volunteer?

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