5 Ways Volunteering Can Improve Your Health
We gain so many health benefits when we volunteer. Not only does volunteering help bring a sense of community to our area but it also helps us and others feel a sense of gratitude. When children get involved in helping others, they develop a sense of fulfillment and expand their view of the world and how others live.
Here are some other benefits of volunteering:
We naturally want to help others. Often times, our busy lifestyle or perceptions about others may hinder our progress on helping others in need. When you help someone, you are also helping yourself. Not only are you expressing a nonjudgmental and unconditional love for someone, but when you do so, it gives you a sense of feeling whole and divine. It can also break a lot of misperceived barriers that we may unintentionally hold about someone. What a great way to show children the importance of helping others, no matter what the situation.
Volunteers live longer and are happier. When we are around others and expand our social system, we are less likely to experience symptoms of depression, feelings of loneliness, boredom and isolation. We think of others and not just ourselves, which can take our mind off our stressors and problems, and it may even help put things in perspective when we are helping those who may be less fortunate in some way, whether because of their health, finances or lack of opportunities. Studies also show that volunteers live longer and have overall better health.
You can feel productive by finding your passion. Do you find yourself passionately talking about a particular topic? Volunteering in that area is a great way to find your niche in what you really love to do. Find your cause, and you’ll feel empowered knowning that you are making a difference in something that is important to you. Instead of just talking about the problem, why not be a part of the solution? So, if you always cringe when someone mentions that an animal is being mistreated and you love animals, that may be your niche and an opportunity to find a place where you can help animals in need. If you never knew your grandparents and you often long for the bond that others have with older relatives, you may want to consider volunteering in a place with elder populations. Children at any age can discover their natural strengths as well as what they like to do, and volunteering gives them an opportunity to experience a variety of settings. Children also learn how to work as a team and improve social skills. They can also enhance their problem solving skills and learn how to collaborate with others.
You can improve your skills and networking opportunities. Volunteering can also hone your talents, such as speaking in public, marketing, and just learning more about the causes that are important to you. You never know who you will meet and what doors can open for you with bigger and better opportunities.
Taking time to fit volunteering into your schedule offers so many positive benefits for you as well as others. Each of us has a natural gift, and to be able to share that gift with others not only makes others grateful and appreciative but also creates a good feeling within ourselves. It creates a sense of connectedness we have with others. Explore the opportunities to find your passion and in the process you can make a big difference in the world by sharing your unique talents and treasures that otherwise may not be discovered.
Cindy Goulding, MS, LPC, NCC, CPT, CWC
Author of Healthy Weight: It’s a Family Affair