When someone else changes plans which also affect us, as Aspies we may become temporarily stuck in a “this is unacceptable!” zone. How can we become more adaptable?
What activities or new experiences may best help us handle change so that we might adapt to other’s needs and acquire a healthier focus; one which does not lead us to a feeling of dread when we must deal with a changed agenda?
Save The Children’s Marc and Craig Kielburger give a possible solution in a recent newspaper article*:
“Youth who volunteer through our service programs…are more comfortable adapting to change…”
Renowned for creating the Save The Children Foundation as a young teen in high school, Craig Kielburger still operates the organization that was originally entirely run by and for children.
In their article, the Kielburger brothers note the following ten ways in whiuch volunteering helps teenagers adjust to school and other stresses, including aversion to change:
When you do something for others, your stress levels are reduced. This is proven by research**.
Volunteering may give you an alternative social scene, in which you can find a sense of community and belonging.
Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about will connect you with mentors who have similar interests.
Helping others puts your focus outside of yourself, encouaging you to see your own situation in a different and possibly more positive light.
Volunteering broadens your outlook. Your own problems may seem far less significant when you come face to face with the plight of others.
Seeing other’s problems, Kielburger says, can help you build both perspective and empathy. Kielburger also notes that doctors state that empathy is a powerful antidote to stress.
As a Volunteer you enjoy increased self-esteen. According to research done within the Foundation, volunteers for Save The Children are 1.3 times more likely to “have a strong sense of self”.
The kind of stress found in volunteering — that is, helping others with their problems — can be an opportunity to overcome challenges, to build resiliency and to develop self-esteem.
Volunteering can build leadership skills.
Volunteering helps develop a life – long habit of giving back.
Find a cause you are passionate about, Aspies and get involved!
Maybe sorting clothes at the local hospice society thrift shop won’t do it for you, but perhaps volunteering in a Wildlife Preservation Society or starting up a chapter of Save the Children will.
Whatever you choose, if you give it your all you will find yourself thinking about situations, people and places beyond your own inner world. Go for it. And, most importantly, enjoy!
*According to an independent study by research firm Mission Measurement.