The advantages of volunteering are practically endless. The homeless find shelter, the hungry are fed, neighborhoods are cleaned, and lives are improved. What often is not considered are the actual mental, emotional, and health benefits to volunteering. Here are a few ways volunteering can do the world and your body good!
While some volunteer opportunities may be online and available from the comforts of your own home, most involve going to a location of the charity or site of service and interacting with other volunteers and those who work with the organization. The people you encounter could change your life for the better in so many ways. A fellow volunteer could be your new best friend, a connection to your next great job, or your future spouse. Even if they don’t play important roles like those, you’re meeting people who share the same values and beliefs about causes you hold dear.
Whether in an environment where you encounter a lot of people or a lot of animals, volunteering often is done in a social setting, inviting interaction with others who have similar beliefs, thoughts, and passions. This can help combat feelings of being disconnected and loneliness and decrease feelings of depression. It particularly is shown in volunteers 65 and over. Through providing a support base for the cause you serve, you often find a support system of your own.
Spending time serving others helps take your mind off your own worries and can deepen the appreciation you have for your life. The prospective it can provide along with the social elements (be them with two-legged or four-legged friends) often built in to volunteering can result in reduced stress levels. In fact, a study by Carnegie Mellon showed lower blood pressure in those who volunteer 200 hours per year.
Providing acts of service for others often results in feelings of purpose and accomplishment. There’s a healthy amount of pride that comes form “doing good.” These positive perceptions of yourself spill over into other parts of your life. This added self-confidence could lead you to pursue other methods of bettering your life such as eating healthier, exercising more, and improving your sleeping habits.
Personal & Professional Development.
Yes, volunteering looks good on a resume, but it also provides you opportunities to improve your job performance. There is a wide range of duties you may perform while volunteering, from accounting to home building. What you can learn while on the job can help make you a more well-rounded individual, personally and professionally. Something you may learn at a soup kitchen may make you a better chef at home. A lesson you learn while working with Habitat for Humanity may help you complete a do-it-yourself project in your house. Interactions you have while answering calls for a hotline may improve your relationships at work.
According to the Longitudinal Study of Aging, people who volunteer tend to have lower mortality rates than those who do not volunteer. Additional studies show a reduction in depression and pain intensity for volunteers who suffer from chronic illnesses and serve others diagnosed with the same condition. For older adults, volunteering provides mental stimulation, physical activity, and a motivating sense of purpose that together helps improve their overall heath.
If you need any more reasons to volunteer, in addition to the good work that would be done, then hopefully some of the above will encourage you to devote some time to a cause that is important to you.