Volunteering is a great way to enhance your mood and satisfaction with life.
Studies show that people who spare their time and devote it to volunteering and helping others have a greater sense of social connectedness, which in turn wards off loneliness and low mood.
Volunteering can have psychological effects on your mood and sense of well-being, but it can also have an impact on your physical health. A study outlined in Psychology and Aging found that adults over the age of 50 who had volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than individuals who did not volunteer. This is because the act of volunteering is likely to reduce stress and high blood pressure is related to stress.
“To serve others and do good”Aristotle
Some of the benefits include:
- Sense of achievement and fulfillment
- Connect with and understand people more
- Enhance physical and mental health
- Gain new skills and knowledge
- Personal development and boost self-esteem
- Meet new people and make new friends
- Boost job and career prospects
When we help others, we get a sense of fulfilment, humans are social animals and we thrive when we connect with others. Having compassion for and helping others can make us feel more grateful for what we have in our lives. This, in turn, makes us feel happier in the lives that we have a feel more content, knowing that we are helping others that are in need. Professor Stephen Post reviewed the existing literature on the benefits of helping others and volunteering, and concluded that “when we help others, we help ourselves”.
One of the more well-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Even helping out with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. And volunteering is a two-way street: It can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills.
One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. It strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighbourhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities.
Volunteering as a family
Children watch everything you do. By giving back to the community, you’ll show them firsthand how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to help other people and animals and enact change. It’s also a valuable way for you to get to know organizations in the community and find resources and activities for your children and family.
Mind and Body
Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health.
Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety.
The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person. Working with pets and other animals has also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
Volunteering combats depression.
Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against depression.
Volunteering makes you happy.
By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.
Volunteering increases self-confidence.
You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
Volunteering provides a sense of purpose.
Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life.
Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy.
Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better-thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.
People with disabilities or chronic health conditions can still benefit greatly from volunteering. In fact, research has shown that adults with disabilities or health conditions ranging from hearing and vision loss to heart disease, diabetes or digestive disorders all show improvement after volunteering.
Whether due to a disability, a lack of transportation, or time constraints, many people choose to volunteer their time via phone or computer. In today’s digital age, many organizations need help with writing, graphic design, email, and other web-based tasks. Some organizations may require you to attend an initial training session or periodical meetings while others can be conducted completely remotely. In any volunteer situation, make sure that you are getting enough social contact, and that the organization is available to support you should you have questions.
How you can get involved
There are many places that you can volunteer with. First, it might be useful to decide in what way you would like to volunteer (working with children, elderly, animals, homeless).
So why not give it a try? Get out there and give some of your time to those in need in the knowledge that you’ll not only be helping others, but you’ll be helping yourself too!
Do-it for good: https://do-it.org/