If ever you have experienced volunteering, you are probably aware of the great feeling it leaves even after the volunteer work is done. There is that sense of euphoria which leaves you feeling fulfilled and energized as you go back to your monotonous daily grind.
Ever wonder why those who donate to charities seem to feel wealthier? It’s kind of the same with volunteering.
Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner said, “giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’ and less time-constrained than wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time.”
Volunteer for Others but Also for Yourself
Sure, volunteering does help your neighbors, your community, and perhaps, your elderly acquaintance across the street. But did you know that allocating hours for volunteer work at least once a week does wonders for your emotional and physical well-being too? Let’s explore its amazing perks below:
1. Improves Health
There has been a lot of research and debate as to the real effect of altruism on the human body and mind. But all of them point to having a positive connection. Psychology Today says
“People who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44 percent lower likelihood of dying — and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more. It has a stronger effect than exercising four times a week; which means that volunteering is nearly as beneficial to our health as quitting smoking!”
2. Builds Companionship
Volunteering essentially opens you up to meeting new people and making friends. As compared to staying at home and watching the TV, participating in volunteer work keeps you learning and growing.
As people age, the tendency of losing childhood friends or colleagues comes naturally. The key is letting yourself adapt to change. The social benefits of volunteering also have long-term results. Research says that the more you socialize, the more your brain functions well. This leads to an improved immune system and lowered risk to various illnesses.
3. Increases Self Esteem
Talking to people, from all walks of life (and with different paychecks) builds up your confidence. Maybe you’re comfortable talking to someone from your own class or social standing. Volunteering helps you break that invisible wall, so you can experience life with other people — no matter how different they are.
HelpGuide.org says, “Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.”
4. Develops New Skills
You might be an accountant or a banker all your life. But you might be surprised that you’re not so bad at teaching or writing too. That’s what volunteering does — it lets you make room for more talents without burning you out.
Sometimes, those who volunteer also find new passions that they turn into new career paths. For instance, you suddenly fell in love with kids, helping seniors or maybe animals. The brightest ideas sometimes come from the most inconspicuous sources.
5. Promotes Longevity
According to NationalService.gov, “volunteers who devote a considerable amount of time to volunteer activities (about 100 hours per year) are most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes.” In other words, those who volunteer are among the healthiest people in the world.
Moreover, if they say that volunteering reduces the risk of diseases and boosts overall health, then you can expect more years in the volunteer’s life. There’s also a research paper, which says that those who do volunteer work are at the lower risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In essence, volunteering is beneficial for both young and old and for people from all social standing.
Volunteer Because It Makes a Difference
Hopefully, you are encouraged to get out of your comfort zone and step out into the inspiring world of volunteer work. Don’t volunteer so that your resume looks good or so that your social media accounts get hundreds of likes. It’s not about looking good to people or becoming popular. Volunteer because your help matters. Volunteer because there are so many people who need a helping hand. Just the same, as you help others, you also help yourself.
As Gordon Hinckle puts it, “One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”