Volunteering Is the Best Kept Secret for Mental Health
Illustration: Anna DeFlorian
There are horse barns in New York City. A lot of people don't realize this, but I'm lucky enough to have uncovered this secret through volunteering at a therapeutic riding program for children with disabilities. A couple of Sundays a month, I get up early, drink my coffee on the train to Forest Hills, and spend a few hours helping kids with their riding lessons.
I'm not saying all of this to get some kind of good Samaritan points. In fact, volunteering is one of the most self-serving things I do, because whenever I help out at the horse barn, my stress and anxiety levels noticeably drop. I feel calmer, more relaxed, and my mind is clear, often for the first time in weeks. It has quickly become one of the most reliable ways for me to de-stress—I've found it more effective than meditation, medication, or exercise.