We oftentimes think of volunteering as solely helping the organizations and people we’re offering our time to, but volunteering can have great benefits that aren’t just for the people we’re helping.
Volunteering can lead to getting out of your social circle, and meeting new people you wouldn’t have met otherwise, which can turn into friendships, or even business contacts. It can also help you feel more socially connected to others, which can be good for warding off loneliness and depression. Volunteering with animals can help stress and anxiety levels go down as well.
Volunteering can also help your overall happiness levels, too. According to www.helpguide.org, researchers have been able to measure brain activity in volunteers, and have determined that people who help others tend to be happier. “Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.”
Volunteering helps boost your self-confidence as well. Helping others and doing good for your community gives you a sense of accomplishment, and a role in the community, which can give you a sense of pride and identity. This positive view of yourself can help with giving you a sense of purpose as well, which many people, regardless of age and situation, struggle with.
There is growing evidence to suggest that volunteering can have physical health effects as well. People who volunteer tend to lead a more active lifestyle, and are also less likely to develop high blood pressure. Benefits for older volunteers include having better thinking skills, being less likely to develop high blood pressure, have less symptoms of chronic pain, and even a reduced risk of heart disease.
Volunteering is also a great way to gain career experience and learn job skills. Just because the work isn’t paid, doesn’t mean there’s no experience that could help in a career in the future. Oftentimes, volunteering with an organization can lead to a career in that field.
For help finding an opportunity to volunteer, and tips to get started, visit www.helpguide.org.