Top 10 Health Benefits of Volunteering

the health benefits of volunteering

When you help others you also help yourself. Volunteering brings the community together to help the less fortunate or improve quality of life for everyone. Whether you are working to save animals or mentoring children, volunteering is a rewarding way to help your community. Medical health experts have also discovered that it imparts many health benefits on you. Read on to learn the top health benefits of volunteering.

Builds Self Esteem

Volunteering forces you outside of your comfort zone. Whether it is meeting and working with new people, or mastering a new skill, volunteering forces you to grow as a person. According to University of Minnesota psychologist Mark Snyder, “people who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness.”

Reduces Stress

Modern life can leave us anxious, alienated, and overburdened. When you volunteer, you check your own problems at the door to help someone else with theirs. The social interaction, meaningful work, and exercise decrease stress levels.

Creates A Sense of Purpose

Philosophers aren’t the only ones looking for a sense of purpose in life. Many people struggle to define what their life is all about. “Am I giving back to the world?” “Am I spending my time selfishly?” Questions like these pester many of us. The truth is that most jobs are not all that fulfilling. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to find a cause you identify with and believe in and gives you a way to accomplish it. That’s why many volunteers have a peace of mind.

Social Support

One person can make a difference, but a whole community can change the world. Most volunteer organizations muster the collective effort of a whole team, fostering close connections and creating tight bonds between volunteers.  Studies show that volunteering helps create a social connection that decreases depression and loneliness. It is particularly beneficial to help older people and retirees maintain a social network later in life.

Cardiovascular Health

A Carnegie Melon study published by the American Psychological Association identified a tentative link between volunteerism and decreased risk of hypertension among adults 50 years or older. The study found that older adults who had volunteered at least 200 hours over the course of a year were less likely to develop hypertension than nonvolunteers. While the study couldn’t identify the link, it suggests higher levels of physical activity and better mental health as possible explanations.

Lower Mortality Rates

Improved cardiovascular health is just one of the ways that studies show volunteering decreases mortality rates. One 2005 study found that those who gave social support to others had lower mortality rates than nonvolunteers, accounting for other factors like class and age. A longitudinal study confirmed that providing support to others led to a lower rate of mortality five years down the road.

Promotes Travel

Volunteering strengthens your local community. Chances are you can find a great cause just down the street. But what if you want to save the whales, or provided medical assistance elsewhere? Global volunteer opportunities draw conscientious people from all over the world to help on a cause. At HFR we celebrate anything that promotes travel. Volunteering expands your horizons and lets you see the world while helping others. Now that’s a worthy cause.

Makes You Happy

Think of the last time you were undeniably happy. When you felt a radiating feeling of contentedness and positivity that could not be mistaken as anything else. Maybe you felt it right after a hard workout on a beautiful day, or over a home cooked meal with friends and family.

What you felt is called The “happiness effect,” and researchers at the London School of Economics claim that volunteering creates the happiness effect. People were 7% more likely to say they felt “very happy” if they volunteered monthly, 12% if twice a month, and 16% if they volunteered weekly.

Teaches Caring 

When you care about others, it helps you re-evaluate how you care about yourself. Spend time in a positive environment working towards something, and you will prioritize self-care and love.

Learn New Skills 

Whether you are preparing meals at a food bank or building houses, chances are that your volunteer work will push you to learn new skills. Learning keeps your mind young and improves critical thinking. It can also help you in your career, which can give financial well-being to put your mind at ease.

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