You hear it constantly – volunteer! It will make you happier! But why does everyone believe this? Are there legitimately health benefits of volunteering? Turns out, there are. As we discussed in the post about developing your spiritual health, we are made to connect with others. Many would say we are made to serve others. Through volunteering you are able to experience this connection and giving back, which gives you a few noted health benefits.
Health Benefits of Volunteering
If you do a simple Google search for the health benefits of volunteering, you’ll find lists upon lists of various benefits you can expect from giving your time in the service of others. We’ve narrowed the list down to our top three.
Volunteering helps counteracts the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety
Everyone’s life is stressful. You have work and family commitments to keep. You’re rushing around trying to keep up with all of your responsibilities while also focusing on your own health. Plus some idiot cut you off in traffic and you let it make you a little more upset than you’d like to admit. It’s normal to experience these feelings. Rather than allowing them to build and bother you, volunteer and counteract these negative feelings.
By actively serving others, you see a lot of good in the world. You’re with a group of people who are also giving their time, and those you’re supporting generally are extremely thankful of your effort. It’s a feel-good factor that is all but impossible to replicate in others areas of your life.
Volunteering increases your self-confidence
When you volunteer, you immediately see the impact you’ve made. Whether you’re serving food at a soup kitchen, cleaning up the local roads, or sorting clothes at a shelter, when you’re done you realize the impact you’ve had. This achievement helps you identify as helpful, meaningful, and successful. You’re able to get things done while also helping others. What is more meaningful than that?
Volunteering allows you to have fun while doing your favorite hobby
At first, this health benefit of volunteering can feel a little self-serving. We’re here to say that is okay. Just because you’re giving your time and skills away doesn’t mean you need to find something you dislike doing. You may not realize it, but many of your professional and non-professional skills can be extremely helpful in a volunteer environment.
For example, if you enjoy gardening, you could volunteer at a community garden. These gardens often provide food for shelters, provide needed nature in an otherwise concrete jungle, or even provide kids with educational opportunities.
If you love to cook, you could volunteer to make food for the homeless. In our home town, Indianapolis, Wheeler Mission has volunteering positions for preparing the food which will be cooked for the population in need.
From a professional standpoint, if you have skills in financial analysis or accounting, you could provide a local non-profit with extremely needed advice come tax time or month-to-month book keeping. This has the added benefit of also allowing you to grow your own professional skills while helping others.
You benefit from volunteering as much as those you serve
Volunteering is not only beneficial to those you’re helping, it is beneficial to your health and well-being, too. Explore some avenues through which you can volunteer in your local community. Whether you’re looking to share a hobby with your community, serve those in need, or even support a local company with your unique skill-set, volunteering can be a great avenue to explore.