Anyone who volunteers on a regular basis can tell you why they keep coming back: It feels great! Not only does giving to your community brighten the day of yourself and others, but it’s scientifically proven to benefit your mental health and overall wellness. Here are a few ways that you help yourself by helping others!
Volunteering is good for your body and mind
We’ve explored the mental health benefits of volunteering before, but it never hurts to reiterate just how much it can help both your body and mind to help others. Research comparing the health of volunteers and non-volunteers show a major difference! People who volunteer for at least 100 hours a year are shown to have lower blood pressure, which is a major contributor to other health risks such as heart attack, stroke, and a shortened lifespan overall.
Even people who have differing abilities enjoy the benefits of volunteering. In a study on those who suffered from chronic pain, people who volunteered to mentor others experiencing similar circumstances reported lower rates of depression and a decrease in their own pain from the satisfaction they felt when helping others.
Meet new friends when you volunteer
As we get older, it’s harder to find places to make new acquaintances and form friendships. If you’re looking for meaningful friendships that give your life purpose, sign up to volunteer! It gives you a chance to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds that you may not have had a chance to get to know in your social “bubble” provided by work, school, or your neighborhood. This can be especially helpful if you’ve recently moved to a new area or started a new job and you want to get to know others.
Make career connections
Are you feeling stagnant in your career and want to make a change? Volunteering can help! Talk to your employers about joining the board of a local nonprofit organization. Oftentimes, companies are proud to have a representative serve on their behalf in these important roles, and will allow you time to attend meetings or serve during your work hours. This is especially true if you find an organization that aligns with the mission of your company. For example, if you work at a bank or in the accounting department, see if there are local organizations that promote financial literacy in underserved populations. Not only will you feel the reward of serving others, but you can also make connections that will advance your career. Don’t forget to add all these activities to your resumé, too!