Whether you are solving a community problem, advancing a worthy cause or developing as a person, volunteering offers many benefits in appreciation for the gift of your time and talent. Volunteering can help you build friendships, make a difference in your community, help you learn new skills, and even help protect your mental and physical health.
“Doing for others can provide a healthy boost to your self-esteem and self-confidence.”
We all take away different experiences from volunteering. When you find the right cause to devote your time, there’s no doubt you’ll walk away with some good-for-you benefits.
Here are some great reasons to be a volunteer:
Connect with others
Volunteering can help you develop a firm tie to the community and at the same time connect you with others who share a similar passion for the same cause or interest. It also allows opportunities for you to interact, strengthen existing relationships, meet others and expand your network. As you give back to others, you’ll practice and develop your social skills all while you create a wider support group.
Good for the mind
Doing for others can provide a healthy boost to your self-esteem and self-confidence. You gain a sense of pride and feel good about yourself and what you are doing when volunteering. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive outlook on life and strive toward your future goals and aspirations.
Social isolation has been known to lead to depression but volunteering can help reduce your risk of depression by keeping you in regular contact with others. Since you are constantly working with others, you are never alone and are gaining a broader, more solid support group. When you feel as though you are going through a challenging or stressful time, you can always turn to your network of friends for support.
Good for the body
Volunteering at any age is good for your health. It keeps you busy and active. Volunteering has been found to be especially beneficial for older adults. In fact, research shows that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering the health factors of the participants. In addition, some studies have shown that volunteering was able to lessen symptoms of certain illnesses such as chronic pain and heart disease.
Fun and fulfilling
Not only is volunteering a great way to meet others, it is an easy way to explore your passions and interests. You may find that helping others sparks your inner happiness, leaves you energized and provides you renewed motivation and creativity that can roll over into your personal and professional life. Finding a volunteer opportunity you find meaningful, fun and interesting can also help you escape from your mundane daily routine of work, school or family commitments.
Remember that helping with even the smallest of tasks can make a real difference in the lives of people, animals and organizations in need. You’ll walk away with a sense of accomplishment and feelings of happiness and fulfillment.
Editor’s note: There are many volunteer opportunities in our community waiting for you to discover. To find volunteer opportunities near you, visit the United Way of Western CT Volunteer Center or to find local volunteering opportunities, visit your Senior Center.
This Health & Wellness article is brought to you by Western Connecticut Health Network.