At this point, you’ve probably heard all of the pros about volunteering. You can make a difference in the community, you can impact future generations, you can simply brighten someone else’s day, and so on and so forth. There are no limits to all of the positives that go hand-in-hand with an altruistic lifestyle.
But, one benefit in particular which often gets overlooked is how volunteering affects you. Sure, you know volunteering has a positive influence (make friends, build connections, gain experiences, etc.), but did you know that it can actually assist your health? If you don’t believe us, check out these six healthy advantages of volunteering.
1. Volunteering boosts self-esteem.
Possibly the greatest asset to volunteering is its obvious effects on mental health, particularly an individual’s self-esteem. Doing good for others and the community provides a natural sense of accomplishment, pride and new identity. Not to mention, building a group of encouraging individuals around you gives you a strong safety net of support, which helps boost your overall self-esteem and mental well-being.
2. Volunteering decreases stress.
Nothing helps relieve stress better than a meaningful connection with another person or animal. Studies have often demonstrated the “Happiness Effect” of volunteering. When we give our time to others, our brains release the chemical dopamine, which influences our moods and helps lower stress levels. So if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, chances are volunteering for a cause can help calm your nerves.
3. Volunteering reduces depression.
Overtime, these lower stress levels can also reduce rates of depression found in volunteers. Getting involved in a community of volunteers fosters social interaction and increases your support system based on common commitment and interests—both of which have been shown to decrease rates of depression. While volunteering definitely isn’t a cure for depression, it is a great element to keep in mind if your mental health is struggling.
4. Volunteering keeps you active.
Of course, volunteering can even influence your physical health. Particularly for people who find themselves aging faster than anticipated, volunteering gives you a physical outlet for activity. It gets you out of the house and doing something active, even if it’s simply walking door to door and asking for donations. If you really want to boost your health, connect with a local nonprofit and see what volunteering opportunities they have that require physical activity.
5. Volunteering provides purpose.
No matter which organization, cause or charity you choose to get involved with, volunteering plays an essential role in the well-being of your community. This kind of responsibility gives volunteers a genuine sense of purpose for their lives. With a newfound purpose, volunteers can experience better emotional and mental health as they strive towards something worthwhile. If you feel lost or confused, then volunteering could be the key to find your way out.
6. Volunteering promotes longevity.
One study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that, “...individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when controlling for age, gender and physical health.” With all of its benefits on your physical, mental and emotional health, it’s no wonder that volunteering can even help you to live longer. By stepping outside of yourself and supporting someone else, you can encounter even more benefits.
You already know all of the benefits volunteering has on others in the community. However, volunteering can also have significant advantages for your health. If you want to feel better physically, mentally and emotionally, then volunteering could be the perfect step. Give it a try and see how your life improves.