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Avoid volunteer overload

School is now in full swing and so are requests for volunteers. As the pleas for bake sale items, car pool drivers, parent coaches, and festival booth coordinators pour in, you may feel you have to say “yes” to them all. Local therapist Stephanie Jeffries-Webb tells us when it’s okay to say “yes” to ourselves and how to say “no” to volunteering overload.

Why is it good to volunteer?

“Volunteering is a great way to stay connected with your community, which is a vital part of overall health, well-being, and longevity. Being productive or generative is a natural human drive. Volunteering also demonstrates prosocial role modeling to your kids and others. Most of us feel good about helping others.”

Why do we sometimes feel we can’t say “no”?

“In some groups there is a peer pressure expectation to volunteer. Fear of others’ judgment, guilt, or a whole slew of ‘shoulds’ can get people to overcommit.”

How do you know when to say “no”?

“If you find yourself cringing when your phone rings or when you see a text from the volunteer coordinator, that’s probably a good sign that you’re overextended. If your family is complaining about time spent with your volunteer project, you probably need to reevaluate your priorities. If your work is suffering for your volunteer project, take a break. If you feel resentful or frustrated or feel that the group owes you, it’s time to tag out and take a break.”

Why is it okay to say “no”?

“It’s okay to remember that “no” can be a complete sentence. In our culture, we are fond of saying things like ‘I gave 110 percent’—or 150 percent or even 200 percent. The reality is we all only have 100 percent. That’s one whole pie to divide among the many parts of our life that we try to balance.”

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