6 Ways Volunteering Helps You

You might think volunteering is a great way to help others. But the truth is when you volunteer you help yourself as well. Studies show that volunteering can improve physical and mental health. For instance, a Health and Retirement Study found that long-term volunteering can help the elderly lower their blood pressure and live longer. In short, volunteering benefits you as much as the people you’re helping.

Benefits of Volunteerism

1. Increase Your Lifespan
The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study found that volunteering helps some people live longer. People who volunteer simply because they want to help others live the longest. People who volunteer for other reasons, or not at all, statistically have shorter lifespans.

2. Form Social Bonds
Volunteering provides a way to interact with groups of people in a social setting. It’s common for volunteer-based friendships to develop, mostly because you bond over the activity which brings you together.

3. Develop a Sense of Purpose
The feeling of personal accomplishment that comes from volunteering can make you feel better all around. And it doesn’t take a lot of time or sacrifice on your part. Spending just one or two hours a week helping someone in need is enough to renew your sense of purpose.

4. Reduce Depression and Feelings of Isolation
Volunteering can provide you with a much-needed social network and social support. Helping others because you really want to make their lives better is an excellent mood booster. Your sense of isolation or depression is likely to lessen the more you socialize. But depression can develop into a serious illness that requires medical attention. Seek professional help if your feelings of depression or isolation continue to worsen.

5. Stress Less
Volunteering can act as a form of stress management. This is especially true if your life is generally hectic and chaotic. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to step away from the chaos of your daily life. Helping others also gives you a boost of dopamine, which is a brain chemical that plays a role in improving your mood.

6. Stay Active
Obesity and diabetes are at higher levels than ever before. This is in part attributed to the fact that most people live sedentary lives. Whatever the cause, very few people get the physical exercise their body needs. Volunteering for activities that require physical work is a great way to get your body moving.