Volunteer to Help Those with PsA
National Volunteer Week is April 23-29. This is a great time to help those in the psoriatic arthritis community in many ways: mentoring, starting a support group, getting involved in a fundraising event, or becoming an ambassador.
Since my son’s diagnosis with psoriatic disease 14 years ago, our family has been committed to making a difference in the lives of those with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. While we want to offer a helping hand to others, we also volunteer to help ourselves.
I remember those days quite clearly. I desperately wanted to meet others who were experiencing the same emotions as me. I am thankful every day for the families and patients I met when my son was early in his diagnosis and again when I was dealing with my own psoriatic arthritis symptoms a few years later. Their insights and comfort eased my worries.
We were truly thankful for these interactions and always felt the need to pay it forward. We want to show others the same compassion showed to us. No one should have to navigate this disease alone.
Recommendation: Become a mentor. The National Psoriasis Foundation’s One-To-One Program is a great place to start. Training is provided, so you don't have to go it alone.
The benefits of volunteering aren’t one-sided. According to Create the Good, volunteering can decrease your risk of depression, reduce stress levels, and increase “the happiness effect.” Volunteering increases social interaction and provides a sense of meaning and appreciation. Many psoriatic arthritis patients have bouts of depression, and simply having the disease can cause additional stress, so finding time to volunteer might be some great medicine with positive side effects.
Recommendation: Be an active member in Psoriatic-Arthritis.com’s community or the Arthritis Foundation’s or National Psoriasis Foundation’s message boards. You can even start your own in-person support group for others in your local community.
Staying physically active
Exercise is good for patients with psoriatic arthritis. While you won’t want to overdue it, finding a volunteer activity that involves some physical activity is a great way to stay active and raise psoriatic arthritis awareness in your community.
Recommendation: Sign up for your area’s Walk to Cure Arthritis or Team NPF Cycling event. Not only do you raise awareness and funds for non-profits that aim to improve the lives of those with psoriatic arthritis, you also get some physical exercise at the same time.
Educate yourself and learn new skills
By volunteering, you can challenge yourself to learn new skills and gain professional experience. This could be learning new computer software, functions of the government, or maybe you want to test out a possible career path in marketing.
I used to be terrified to talk in public. In fact, I’d break out with red, blotchy skin all over my neck any time I’d get nervous. I’d have to wear clothing that covered my neck if I had to give a speech in school. However, by volunteering and giving speeches about all things psoriatic disease, I’ve become more comfortable with public speaking and my neck only turns pink.
Recommendation: Become an ambassador in your community and learn new skills to further non-profits’ missions. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc., the Arthritis Foundation, and the National Psoriasis Foundation all have great volunteer programs.
Do you regularly track your psoriatic arthritis symptoms?