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The Health Benefits of Volunteering

Life happens. That statement is self-evident, yes, but it is a simple truth that a lot of us forget. Life is out of our control for the most part and we’re often left to try and make the best of the situations we find ourselves in. Most of the time we can steer things so that they are, at the very least, not going to make things worse. Not everyone has that luck though. Organizations exist to help people who haven’t had as much good fortunate when it comes to ensuring things go their way. This can mean organizations that gather food, help organize care of various sorts, and even ones that do things like build homes for people. Most such organizations run on donations given they are designed as an expression of the human tendency to take care of one another. Monetary donations are useful, but frequently a donation of time can be such as helpful. Volunteering with a local organization benefits your community and can actually benefit your health too.

Fulfillment and Happiness
It seems a bit cliché to point it out, but the human condition has a way of wearing us all down. Who hasn’t found their way to a psychologist’s practice at least once while burdened with the question of what it all means. It is easy for any of us to get caught up in mechanisms greater than ourselves in this era. We can do our jobs, yes, but they can come to dominate all of our life. Things get done, but there is something missing in it all: the human element. As a species, we all need to make time to do something that speaks to us. Helping one another is a big motivator since we’re a social species. Volunteering is actually linked to improved mental health. It helps to counter some things, like depression, through consistent interaction with others while working towards a positive goal. Furthermore, that sense of actually contributing to something that isn’t just a structured bit of work we may never see a payoff for tends further add a sense of fulfillment to volunteering that many people find it hard to find elsewhere.

Volunteer workers
Staying Active
Regardless of the kind of volunteering you do, you’re likely to end up doing something that involves physical activity at one point or another. A common form this takes is volunteering to collect donations from the local community. Approaching people and walking around help keep you active both physically and mentally. This works quite well at helping support long term health. You’ll get more physical benefits from volunteering that requires actual labor though. Building projects are, obviously, a good source for this, but so is helping to maintain local trails or parks as part of a preservation committee. These outdoor focused organizations also ensure that you’ll be out and about enjoying fresh air and sunlight. Yes, you need to remember your sunscreen, but the natural light and fresh air tend to do people a lot of good all on their own. Even if it won’t cure what ails you, it will at the very least give a boost to your mood in many cases.

Stress and Life Expectancy
The benefits of volunteering aren’t all short term though. Doing something that feels meaningful to you and experiencing life has a way of helping to manage stress levels. After all, you generally won’t be in a huge press for time when you’re volunteering on something. That means that, while you may be working, you can still relax while doing things. Volunteering can play a crucial role in long term stress management for some of us. Reducing your stress levels, increasing your sense of fulfillment, and keeping active also all contribute to an overall greater well-being. This provides safeguards against both mental and physical illness. In the end, you’ll likely end up living longer than you otherwise would have if you find a form of volunteering that you find meaningful. That is the crucial part of all this though. Make sure to try out different kinds of volunteering to find what works best for you and actually feels meaningful. After all, volunteering for something you don’t enjoy isn’t likely to do much for you beyond compound any stress you’re experiencing already.

Volunteering is something most of us should consider making the time to do at some point in our lives. There’s no getting around that some sections our our lives can be far too busy, but the slower times can be a good time to volunteer. Admittedly, carving out time to volunteer in the busier times might do our health a lot of good as well. Volunteering helps both your community and you. Humans are all interconnected even if we forget it sometimes. To help one another will always help us as well as we all move to create a better world together.

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