Everyone knows volunteering makes the world a better place. But did you know it also can help you stay mentally, socially, and physically fit?
More than 60 million Americans volunteered a median of 52 hours in 2007, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And these numbers don’t include the millions of people who work as unpaid caregivers for family or friends. Is it possible people are continuing to volunteer for “selfish” reasons? It sounds counter-intuitive, but studies have shown that the external benefits of community work are mirrored internally in the volunteers themselves.
Here are some of the benefits of volunteering, from Helpguide:
- Connection: Volunteering is a great opportunity to connect with others, expand your network, and boost your social skills.
- Health: Volunteering provides many health benefits. This study proved that helping others provides immense pleasure and happiness to those involved, and can help counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety, and depression.
- Purpose: Volunteering is great for finding purpose in your later years. It helps take your mind off negative thoughts, keeps you mentally stimulated and gives you a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
- Longevity: Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Ready to find volunteer work? Here are some of our favorite resources:
- 10 Tips on Volunteering Wisely
- National and Community Service
- U.S. Peace Corps
- American Red Cross
- Experience Corps
Have you had a meaningful volunteering experience in the past? How did you get involved? Share your experiences and thoughts on volunteering!