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Volunteering is a pro-social behavior. It’s dedicating your time, attention, and resources toward helping people who are facing hardships in your community with no expectation of any reward or compensation.

But there is something in it for you after all.

Volunteering elevates your mind, body, and spirit, helping you achieve greater well-being, and may even offer greater longevity!

Learn how it can help here.


Why Volunteer?

It’s easy to get so caught up in our web of work and life that we seldom consider the diversity of ideas, experiences, conversations, and thoughts beyond our own. It limits not just our creativity but also our view of the world.

Consider that people with greater depressive symptoms find greater satisfaction in life when they fulfill their need to belong. This illustrates the simple power of maintaining social relationships.

And that is just one of the many benefits of volunteering!

Volunteering also allows you to put yourself in the shoes of others, see the world around you, explore new perspectives, and tap into your altruistic side while meeting new people and establishing new friendships.

Despite the idea that volunteering requires great energy and effort, that isn’t always the case. Giving in simple ways—like volunteering at the soup kitchen, spending a day with rescue animals, or tutoring a child—can make the world a better place for you and the generations after you.


7 Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering can affect your health in a myriad of ways.

1. Boosts Happiness

Helping someone out makes you feel good. This is a well-recorded offshoot of volunteerism. Called “helper’s high,” it generates positive emotions after an act of generosity.

This is also backed by a 2020 study in the Journal of Happiness Studies. With data spanning 20 years, researchers produced the most robust quasi-causal estimates showing that people who volunteer are happier than those who do not. As icing on the cake, selfless acts of service have been shown to improve mental health over time.

2. Builds Self-Confidence

Meanwhile, a 2013 study involving 366 healthcare volunteers from different regions of Malaysia showed that individual skills-based volunteerism directly affects life satisfaction, self-esteem, and job performance.

Since it was correlated with improvements in ten work-related skills, it can provide a sense of accomplishment, heightening the volunteers’ sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

The consensus is that making a positive difference in the lives of others gives you a more positive view of yourself which boosts self-confidence.

3. Combats Depression and Stress

A 2020 article revealed the stress-buffering effects of volunteering. Participants reported better well-being on volunteer days compared to days they didn’t volunteer. They also showed lower levels of negative affect and higher levels of positive affect.

Research also shows that improving access to social and psychological resources through volunteering counters depression and anxiety among people over 65. Prolonged exposure profoundly affects everyone and the greatest benefits were noticed in individuals who are sociable, outgoing, and less prone to stress and anxiety.

Working with pets, for example, can decrease the levels of cortisol (the main stress hormone) in your system and can thus regulate your mood, motivation, and fear.

4. Helps Develop Close Relationships and Social Interactions

Volunteering can be a great way to make deep and meaningful friendships with people over shared interests. It strengthens your ties to the community while helping you create bonds rooted in purpose and passion among people with diverse backgrounds. So, you also get to put your social skills to work as a bonus.

Since volunteering fosters social interaction, it can be helpful if you’re new to an area, are an introvert, or are an older adult who finds it difficult to find opportunities to socialize.

According to a 2011 article that conducted a 2-week study of 105 employees over 476 days, it is also associated with developing close relationships!

5. Provides a Sense of Purpose

When you volunteer, you donate your time to help others and do what’s needed. This gives you a sense of self and purpose.

Volunteering elevates your levels and perception of satisfaction. One study that examined the quality of life among retired and senior volunteers showed that volunteering enhanced their general well-being and the pleasure they derived from their daily activities.

Hence, it can make you compassionate, help fulfill you in new ways, and broaden your horizons.

6. Keeps the Wheels in Your Mind Running

According to a 2009 article, older adults who were at higher risk for cognitive impairment demonstrated intervention-specific short-term gains and improved executive functioning.

This proves that volunteer activities don’t just distract your mind from negative thoughts. They also increase motivation while encouraging you to move more and keep your brain active.

7. Reduces Feelings of Isolation

Did you know that loneliness can impact the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and lead to higher levels of cortisol?

Volunteering enhances cognitive performance.

If the activity brings you joy and you’re constantly surrounded by a support system whom you share common interests with, you’re more likely to feel connected to the world. This can help reduce feelings of loneliness (which was found to be twice as deadly as obesity in a longitudinal analysis conducted on senior adults).


As a Bonus, It Keeps You in Peak Physical Health

According to a study conducted on adults over 50 years old, adults who volunteer are less likely to develop hypertension than those who don’t. And since it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, we can safely assume that it makes a massive impact on your quality of life. 


What You Need To Remember About Volunteering

When you volunteer, you’re not just working towards the betterment of society. You’re also blessed with a healthy channel for avoiding negative thoughts, isolation, self-centeredness, depression, stress, anxiety, and a sense of aimlessness.

If you’re new to volunteering, remember that you can start small and take simple steps. Consider the causes you care about, the skills you have, and how much time you can commit. By giving volunteering a chance, you can enjoy new connections, have a healthier frame of mind, and make a positive difference.