As a volunteer, valuable time and energy are graciously donated to help others. We often seek volunteer opportunities to create an impact on our community and assist those less fortunate than ourselves.
What if your efforts benefit you more than anyone else?
Mental health professionals and research studies agree— there are various mental health benefits to volunteering your time.
We all have different motives to give our unpaid time and efforts to help others. Some begin volunteering as a way to promote their career path or even gain certain skills. Others may find a passionate cause.
No matter the initial motive, engaging in regular volunteer work may boost your mental health in several ways. Let’s break down 5 of these ways:
1. Improving Your Level of Happiness
It’s no secret that happy people are typically more willing to help others. Some have wondered which came first: happiness or volunteer work.
In 2021, a research study in the United Kingdom tried to determine if happy people seek out volunteering or if the experience improves their happiness. Participants in the study reported higher levels of happiness over time while volunteering.
You’re not only putting a smile on others’ faces but helping others has proven to increase your happiness, too.
2. Creating Purpose
Assisting those less fortunate than ourselves provides perspective and often creates purpose for our lives.
There’s a variety of ways to volunteer your time from taking a shift at a food bank to setting up an event at your local church. Homeless shelters, churches, and several non-profit organizations encourage regular ongoing volunteers.
These experiences often provide insight into others’ lives, as well. Many people choose to donate their services even in other countries. For example, doctors and nurses create medical clinics in developing countries.
Opportunities such as these allow us to grow personally through purposeful action for others. Together, we can utilize our skills and talents to create effective change for the betterment of the world.
3. Increasing Socialization
As human beings, we’re designed to create connections and relationships with others. It’s a vital aspect of our well-being.
Participating in volunteer opportunities increases socialization and at times even the development of lifelong friendships. Some enjoy networking to bolster their professional portfolio and career path, as well.
Whether an online or in-person experience, volunteering often includes socializing through collaboration and coordination with peers.
4. Decrease Anxiety and Depression
Millions of people struggle with anxiety and depression. Studies demonstrate that volunteer work lowers rates of anxiety and depression especially for those ages 65 and older.
Another study analyzed empirical evidence to support utilizing volunteer experiences in mental health treatment for adolescents. These positive interactions involved in volunteer work promote self-esteem, improved moods, and enhanced outlooks on life.
Building these components may lead to decreases in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.
5. Lowering Blood Pressure and Reducing Stress
Hypertension, or elevated blood pressure, is a risk factor for a heart attack, stroke, and other chronic diseases. Research shows that engaging in regular volunteer work decreases the probability of developing hypertension.
There’s a direct link between our physical health and mental health. When our bodies are under stress, hormones are released causing an increase in our heartbeat. Engaging in volunteer work reduces stress and ultimately benefits our overall physical and mental well-being.
How Can I Get Involved?
There are countless ways to begin helping others and ultimately improving your life, too. First, identify if there are certain causes that you’d like to support such as suicide prevention, homelessness, or animals.
Once you’ve chosen a cause, research organizations on Google or even on social media platforms. Consider if you have special talents such as playing an instrument or sewing. For example, some people donate their time and effort by sewing teddy bears for families with recent losses using their loved one’s clothing.
If you’re unable to volunteer in person, check out online opportunities, such as the ones here at Her Nexx Chapter. For instance, support hotlines often request volunteers to run the program.
Whichever way you choose to donate your time, improve your mental health and overall well-being through volunteer work.
Extensive evidence supports the mental health benefits of volunteering for others. The simple act of donating your time and skills to help other human beings has a dramatic impact on not only the community but on your well-being.
Consider these important aspects of psychological well-being as you begin to volunteer in your community!
Her Nexx Chapter invites you to join our free Community where women from around the world are connecting with each other’s stories, exploring different experiences, and transforming ideas.
The Future of Connection for Women