Volunteering in Recovery

PicFor people recovering from addiction, the holidays can be a difficult time of year. It is important to find meaningful activities to fill the days. Volunteering is a great activity for people in recovery because they are able to give back to the community. People who volunteer are less tempted to relapse as they feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. When one feels good about what they are contributing to society, they are able to mend the negative feelings of guilt and shame that accumulated while they were using.

While volunteers are actively improving the lives of others, they are ultimately improving their own life. Studies have proven that volunteering time to help others has as much of a positive effect on the volunteer as it does on those who they are helping. People who volunteer have better self-esteem and overall well-being, and they are generally happier than people who don’t volunteer. The better one feels about themselves, the more likely they are to have an optimistic view of life and the future.

Also, during challenging times it’s important to engage in social interaction, as social isolation is a risk factor for depression. Volunteering keeps people in contact with others and provides a feeling of connectedness, which protects from the negative effects of stress and depression.

Here are some tips for getting started volunteering:

  • Decide who you want to work with. Do you work best around adults? Children? Animals?
  • Do you like one-on-one interactions or working in big groups? Volunteering to teach children to read may be in a small setting, probably working one-on-one. Volunteering at a local soup kitchen may be loud, fast-paced and a team effort.
  • Find something that interests you or a cause you believe is important. You’ll be more likely to volunteer on a consistent basis if you enjoy going and believe in what you are accomplishing.

Suggestions of places to volunteer include food shelves, museums, libraries, senior centers, service organizations such as Lions Club or March of Dimes, animal shelters, youth/community organizations such as the YMCA, national parks, and places of worship.

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Meet Our Intern Tonya

Tonya Olson is an intern at Vinland Center’s outpatient chemical health program in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is attending Hazelden’s Graduate School of Addiction Studies, where she is earning a masters in addiction treatment and advanced coursework in co-occurring mental health disorders. Her expected graduation date is April 2015.2014-08-09 17.11.17

Why are you interested in addiction treatment?
Growing up around addiction and seeing how it affects the entire family system is what drew me into this field and guided me to become a part of the solution. I am inspired to help others learn how to live their best life possible based on their wishes, dreams, and desires, while helping them discover their “authentic self.”

Why were you interested in an internship at Vinland?
I have a history of working with people with disabilities, and when I heard about Vinland and what they did, I was instantly attracted to learn more and see how this compared and complemented my previous experiences. It felt as though I was coming full circle in my career and it seemed just right!

What are your goals after graduation?
I am interested in working at a facility that matches my values, while at the same time allowing me to grow and to learn in my new career. I am interested in becoming an advocate for people struggling with addiction. I want to help people navigate the numerous systems that affect the continuum of care needed to effectively treat addiction and co-occurring disorders.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spending time with friends and family is very dear to me. As a self-declared “nerd,” I love to learn! I read about things that interest to me. When I am not reading or learning, I love the outdoors, hiking, gardening, traveling, and playing tennis. After graduation, I am going to learn how to play the acoustic guitar and will try to learn how to speak Spanish.

Where did you last go on vacation?
A road trip to Colorado for a month. The long route included experiencing Sturgis for the first time.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Australia, Wimbledon, and any warm beach destinations

What is your favorite TV show, movie, or book?
TV: “Survivor,” “Naked and Afraid,” “The Amazing Race,” “The Biggest Loser,” and “Intervention.”
Movies: “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “Shawshank Redemption,” “Yours, Mine, and Ours,” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
Books: Too many to name just one! I love Harlequin Romance novels.

If you were immortal for a day, what would you do?
I would stop all of the wars in the world and get them to learn how to communicate effectively so that they could resolve their conflicts and just get along already! If I cannot stop wars… I would want to be able to fly of course. Who does not want to be able to fly?

What is your favorite quote?
“Happiness is not something ready-made… It comes from your own actions.”-Dalai Lama

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Meet Our Intern Amy

Amy Nord is an intern at Vinland’s residential chemical health program. She is currently earning a graduate degree in social work from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities with an expected graduation date of May 2015.

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Why are you interested in social work?
I’m interested in clinical social work – it fits with my world view and where I want to be in the future.

Why were you interested in an internship at Vinland?
I wanted to have experience in an inpatient treatment facility, and to work with people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

What are your goals after graduation?
My immediate goal is getting licensed, which takes two years. Further down the road, I’d like to practice mental health counseling.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to watch the Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Brewers, go “geocaching”, and golf.

Where did you last go on vacation?
My last trip was to Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and then England.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Australia

What is your favorite TV show, movie, or book?
“Moneyball” was a good book and movie. “The X-files” is my favorite TV show.

If you were immortal for a day, what would you do?
Jump off things, like mountains

What is your favorite quote?
“The best fruit is the furthest out on the limb.”

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Infographic: Fit and Fun – The Link Between Exercise and Happiness

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Support Vinland on Cyber Monday

You can support Vinland Center while you shop on Cyber Monday! Simply make your purchases at smile.amazon.com, and Amazon will donate a percentage of your qualifying purchase price to Vinland. All you have to do is follow our link to get to Amazon. The price stays the same, there is no additional cost to you. Please note, you must begin your shopping through smile.amazon.com every time you want to support Vinland.

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Infographic: What Good is Gratitude?

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Practicing Gratitude

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In recent years, the real meaning of Thanksgiving has been overshadowed by feasting, football, and bargain hunting.  This week, it’s important to reflect on what Thanksgiving is really about: giving thanks. The act of giving thanks is defined as gratitude.  In order to practice gratitude, we must take a step back and look at the positive things in our lives.

Robert Emmons, a Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, explains that gratitude has two key components: “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. Second, we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

It’s easy to practice gratitude when life is going smoothly, but it’s important to remember that our Thanksgiving holiday was born out of tough times.  Even in the midst of difficulties and disappointments, make your best effort to see the good in your life.

What do you treasure most? Who has helped you through your darkest times? Through the ups and downs of life, what lessons are you grateful you have learned?

Practicing gratitude in our lives is a choice, and the benefits of choosing gratitude are endless. Even by simply appreciating the small things in life, you will find yourself more successful, healthier, and truly happier. Studies show that grateful people have higher incomes, lower blood pressure, and are more liked by others.

Thanksgiving is a time that reminds us of what we are thankful for, but it should not be the only day of the year we practice gratitude. This week, make a vow to think daily of the things that you are thankful for, and see how your life transforms.

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