Volunteering: Good For The Community & Good For You!

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Friday, August 26, 2022
Volunteers giving thirsty dog water

Volunteering looks great on a resume. It’s an excellent way to network while doing something that helps those in need. Did you also know that volunteering can be a transformative life experience? Getting out and helping others isn’t just good on an ethical and civic level—it’s good for your mental and physical health as well!

Here’s just a few ways in which you end up helping yourself while helping others through volunteering.

It Eases Depression

Studies have found a correlation between volunteering and improved mental health. Researchers examined surveys from nearly 70,000 study participants in the U.K. and found that the participants who had done volunteer work exhibited a higher degree of satisfaction with their lives and an improved state of mental health. Other research suggests that the sense of social cohesion and interaction volunteering provides is what helps reduce depressive symptoms. Another reason why volunteering is so good at reducing stress levels is that doing this kind of social work can release neurochemicals like dopamine.

It Improves Memory

Another benefit of the social activity that comes with volunteering is that it can sharpen your memory and cognitive skills. Studies have found that maintaining a larger social network can positively impact the brain (esp. with older adults).

It Makes You Feel Good

Most people have heard of a runner's high but did you know that there's such a thing as a "helper's high"? Researchers have identified a state of euphoria that can be triggered by altruistic activity. This helper’s high is caused by your brain producing endorphins, which creates a feeling in the body akin to a mild dose of morphine. The same area in your brain that lights up in response to food or sex also responds to thoughts of giving money to a charity. We are hard-wired to help each other—volunteering is literally a pleasurable activity.

It Could Help You Live Longer

One of the more surprising research findings about volunteerism is that people who are actively involved in helping their communities have a markedly lower risk of dying prematurely. Studies found a decrease in death rates ranging from 20% to 60%. This decline in rates can be chalked up to a variety of factors: the stress reduction and heightened feelings of well-being that come from volunteering; volunteers tend to feel less isolated (experts find that isolation is TWICE as bad as obesity for the long-term health of adults, especially those of advanced age); and people with a sense of purpose tend to live longer lives.

It Can Broaden Your Horizons

Volunteering lets you meet new people outside of your family, work, and social circles. Depending on the kind of volunteering you do, it can also provide opportunities to learn new skills and develop new hobbies and passions. You may find a new career path or talent while volunteering, or make lasting friendships.

It Gets You Out Of The House

It’s hard to volunteer remotely. Volunteering is as much a physical activity as it is a social one; you have to get out there, move around, and make things happen. If your work life is a sedentary one, consider doing a form of volunteering that gets you outside and on your feet.

 

Article by Austin Brietta