Almost no other feeling or emotion surpasses the satisfaction of helping others in need. However, volunteering to help others can be quite costly and demanding, especially if you are understaffed and on a budget. Many Charity organizations depend on the kindness of volunteers as they are only part-funded through local councils and the government. This makes it quite hard for them to run their organizations and pay salaries to all their staff. Actually, many organizations rely almost entirely on volunteers to help them do their work.
However, did you know that volunteering could be as beneficial to the doer as it is to those receiving help? Besides providing a sense of community and personal pride in giving back to less fortunate individuals, the act of volunteering can actually benefit your health and overall well-being.
In this article, we will discuss the mental and physical health benefits of volunteering and offer tips for choosing your next volunteer opportunity.
Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering comes with distinct health benefits that can significantly boost your mental health. For instance, volunteering and helping the needy can give you a sense of appreciation, which can act as a stress reliever.
Besides, socializing helps you escape life’s stressors by taking your mind off worries. Not to mention, understanding the various challenges the less fortunate face can help you overcome your struggles.
Below, we will discuss the mental health benefits of volunteering in great detail.
Improves Self Esteem
Volunteering to help the needy in your community may boost your self-confidence and self-esteem. When you’re doing something good for others, it gives you a natural sense of accomplishment. This can help you feel more content about your current state and future aspirations.
What’s more, the act of volunteering to help the less fortunate can give you a sense of pride. And the better someone feels about themselves, the more likely they are to have a positive perspective of their life.
Provides a Sense of Purpose
Volunteers may be able to find their purpose by helping others in the community and becoming part of something bigger and more valuable than themselves. For instance, if you have lost a loved one or are retired, volunteering can give your life a new purpose and keep you mentally stimulated.
Volunteering is one of the most effective ways of increasing your social interaction and broadening your support network. It exposes you to new friends and people with common interests, helping you establish a solid support system and giving you a sense of connectedness. This, in turn, leads to lower risks of anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness.
According to a particular study, regular volunteers, especially older ones, boast lower rates of depression. Another study also found that volunteering can significantly help minimize depression in people suffering from chronic pain.
Boosts Your Happiness
When you volunteer your time and energy to a noble cause, it gives you a boost of satisfaction and happiness. For instance, if helping orphans and needy children makes you happy, volunteering at orphanages will undoubtedly bring you joy.
And if you’re doing something valuable and worthwhile for your community, you cannot help but feel satisfied. Plus, studies show that our bodies release hormones during positive social contact that deliver immense pleasure.
Physical Health Benefits of Volunteering
Most types of volunteer projects involve physical activities that promote good health. Whether organizing events for your community’s retirement home or handing out flyers in your neighborhood, you’re sure to be constantly on the move. This is sure to increase your physical well-being.
Here are some physical health benefits of volunteering that will surprise you.
Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a medical problem that can cause stroke, heart attack, and heart disease, especially in older adults. Fortunately, volunteering can help decrease blood pressure.
A 2013 study found that adults over 50 giving more than 200 hours of their time every year are 40% less likely to experience any high blood pressure symptoms than non-volunteers.
Helps You Stay Physically Healthy
Numerous studies show that regular volunteers have lower mortality rates than those who do not participate in volunteer projects. Generally, volunteers tend to walk more, meet new people, and socialize. This makes it much easier for them to handle everyday tasks, which is beneficial to their physical and overall well-being.
Another study of over 3000 United States adults showed that 76% of those who volunteer claimed that this act of generosity makes them feel physically healthier. About 25% of the volunteers said it helped them cope with a chronic health condition.
Factors to Consider Before Volunteering
With numerous volunteer opportunities out there, you need to take your time to do your research and find something that you would enjoy participating in. You are sure to have a more enjoyable experience if you first identify your goals and interests before taking a volunteering job.
What activities would you enjoy doing? The volunteering opportunities that match your interests and goals are more likely to be exciting and fun.
You should also ensure that your commitment and ambition match the company’s needs.
We recommend asking yourself the following questions:
- What causes are crucial to you?
- How much time are you ready to commit?
- Do you prefer to work with children, adults, or remotely from home?
- Would you like to work behind the scenes or take a more visible role?
Aside from the questions mentioned above, you must consider several volunteer possibilities. Do not just limit yourself to one company or one type of job. Sometimes, a volunteering opportunity may look impressive on paper, only to disappoint once you sign up for it.
So, visit different companies to familiarize yourself with what they are doing. This will help you get a feel for what the organization is like and whether you click with other volunteers and staff.
Volunteering comes with excellent health benefits that can keep you mentally and physically fit. However, there are things to consider to ensure it is the right fit for you. By keeping in mind your time commitment and understanding your expectations, you will benefit the most from your volunteering activities.
Venture Foundation helps raise public awareness about people with intellectual and developmental delays (IDD) to create a safe and supportive environment. We solicit funds from various foundations and fundraising programs and disburse them to individuals in the IDD community to help them access reliable options for addressing their needs. Reach out to us to support our efforts in improving the lives of these individuals.