Volunteering not only provides services for the community you're volunteering in, but has direct benefits for the individual volunteer. The best-kept secret about volunteering is that it's good for you.
Self esteem boosterThrough volunteering, you can build a strong safety net for when you're experiencing difficult times. This helps surround you with a community that's willing to help you out when you need it most. When you volunteer, you become part of someone else's safety net, too.
Builds connectionsAs a volunteer, you'll create endless relationships that connect you to others through the volunteer work you do. If you volunteer regularly, you can maintain those social networks. By making new friends and engaging with the community in a common activity, you'll have more resources available to you which leads to better physical, mental and emotional health.
Makes you feel goodIt is proven that people become happier when volunteering. By giving your time to others, you attain a personal sense of accomplishment, which provides a positive effect on your mood. Volunteers who commit at least one or two hours every week reap the fullest benefits from their service.
Contributes to a longer lifeMore than just a mood boost, volunteering also has effects on your physical health. Volunteers have greater longevity and less frequency of heart disease and may be at a lower risk for memory loss. The social interaction during volunteering can significantly reduce the progress of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.
Provides purpose in your lifeAs you get older, you experience a higher risk for social isolation. As previously mentioned, the social interaction inherent with volunteering that builds connections also adds to a feeling of purpose in life.
Lowers stressStudies on volunteering show that people become happier the more they volunteer. When you assist others, your body releases dopamine in the brain, which has a positive effect on how you feel. Volunteers also experience lower levels of depression.
Sets a good exampleThe opportunity to volunteer as a family teaches important lessons to your children. Your children are always learning from the examples you set and the impact you can show through volunteering is a very powerful lesson. By giving back to the community, you can lay the foundation for service long into the future.
Learn new skillsVolunteering can provide you with an opportunity to learn new skills and experience interests that you might not otherwise get to enjoy. Broaden your horizons while helping your community at the same time.
Posted by Sue Degolier, Director, Social Services and Spiritual Care, Ridgeview Medical Center
Medical and health information presented here is intended to be general in nature, and should not be viewed as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult with a health care professional for all matters relating to personal medical and health care issues. In case of an emergency, please call 911.