I’m sure you know that volunteers really make a huge difference for the people they help. Isn’t that a good enough reason to volunteer?
Surprise! Here is a host of reasons that should make your life “better.” Yes better.
1. Feeling Useful. One of the biggest health benefits of volunteering is the positive feelings it gives us.. Its almost a“state of euphoria” that those who engage in charitable activities experience. Giving to others helps produce endorphins, which can lead to those pleasing feelings. And who doesn’t want to feel great!
2. Increased Trust in Others. Helping others helps people realize that, no matter how bad it gets, we are all in this together. We are all people trying to figure out how to best live on this earth together, and there’s a lot more bringing us together than tearing us apart. And really, most people are good. Volunteering not only builds us socially and makes you happier, it also builds empathy and love for others.
3. Increased Social Interaction. We are simply social humans, we cannot thrive without social connections. A great way to develop new friendships or deepen the ties that already exist is by sharing activities. Volunteering is a productive way to build social skills, and meet new people with shared interests.
4. Decreased Risk of Depression. Research has shown that increased social interaction can help lower rates of depression—especially as we age. While the emphasis may be on helping others now, if you need help further down the road, you’ll likely have some strong connections to lean on.
5. Learn New Skills. Widen your horizons building skills and may even lead to connections if you’re looking to make a career change. Volunteering in a new industry can give you the knowledge and skills you need to potentially switch fields.
6. Increased Mental and Physical Activity. Volunteering is one way to get your body and your mind moving, It explains one reason it provides both physical and mental health benefits. It’s also part of the reason why volunteers tend to stay in better physical health than those who don’t give of themselves.
7. Lowered Stress Levels. Being busy helps to get your mind off yourself and toward others. Volunteering helps your sense of meaning, purpose, and appreciation, which can all help lower stress.
8. Increased Satisfaction with Life. Especially in mature people, those who participate in community service find greater life satisfaction than those who instead stay at their paying jobs. Volunteers also report higher levels of happiness, greater self-esteem, and a better sense of control over life. Just happier overall!
9. Increased Resilience. Not only can volunteering lead to improved functionality, but its a way to expand your social network.
10. Longer Life. The Longitudinal Study of Aging reported that volunteers have lower mortality rates than those who don’t—no matter their age, gender, socioeconomic status, education, ethnicity, or physical health. Even those who are dealing with a chronic or serious illness can enjoy less pain and depression when serving as peer volunteers for others going through the same type of experience.
Not only does Volunteering makes your heart feel warmer, but it also helps it stay stronger. Volunteers experience lower blood pressure and a lower frequency of heart disease. They are also at a lower risk for memory loss and dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and enjoy increased brain functioning.
The people who invest 40 to 100 hours per year (which is equivalent to around 1 to 2 hours a week) in volunteering appear to gain the most when it comes to the health benefits of volunteering. Helping on occasion brings about more joy, connection, and healing. Be sure to volunteer for the right reasons. The health benefits of volunteering are really only for those who are truly wanting to do good for others.
Check out Reward Volunteers, Volunteer Match, Catchafire, Moving Worlds, NationalService.gov or search your city’s website to see what type of volunteer opportunities are available in your area. You can also reach out to your favorite organization or create a post on social media to let your connections know your intentions.