Volunteers all around the world make a difference in the lives of others every day. What volunteers experience, though, is that they benefit just as much as those they’re helping.
Whether physically, mentally, socially, or emotionally, volunteering offers a wealth of benefits. Here are 10 ways volunteering boosts your health.
1. You’ll Live Longer
Regularly volunteering helps you live longer! If you want a long and fulfilling life, then head to your local food bank or soup kitchen, or join a community volunteer group. As you volunteer, you’re gaining physical and mental health benefits, which will affect your long-term health. Volunteering improves your health overall, which adds to your lifespan.
2. Your Mood Will Improve
Another great advantage of volunteering is that you’ll see an improvement in your mood. When you volunteer, you get a boost of happiness and feel like you have a purpose in your life. There’s a sense of reward that people experience when they can put work into a project and see how their actions positively affect others as well as the environment.
3. You Stay Active and Fit
Depending on what kind of volunteer work you do, you might be more active and fit. Usually, you’re making connections with others and having fun when you volunteer. It may not even seem like you’re working at all!
Physical volunteer work typically meets suggested physical fitness levels, since you might be walking to clean a neighborhood, building a home, or participating in 5k runs for a cause.
4. Your Risk Of Depression Decreases
Volunteering opportunities tend to be outdoors, and usually you aren’t alone when you volunteer. Both of these reasons can reduce depressive symptoms and will reduce your risk of depression in the future. When you find a volunteer group, you also find a support group, and you’re able to interact with others routinely.
5. You’ll Soak Up Vitamin D
When you volunteer for a job that requires you to work outside, you soak up the sun! Increased levels of vitamin D offer a plethora of health benefits. Your mental health improves, since sunlight increases serotonin levels. Besides that, it helps prevent cancer, builds strong bones, and can help with rheumatoid arthritis.
6. You Won’t Be So Stressed
Volunteering has proven to reduce stress levels. Getting your mind off of things going on in your daily life during a few hours of volunteering can help you feel more relaxed and puts your mind at ease. Instead of worrying about things you need to do, you can be in-the-moment with your volunteer work.
7. Your Blood Pressure Drops
Adding volunteering to your routine lowers your blood pressure. As you volunteer, you are getting some level of physical activity, and you begin to feel good about yourself. These positive aspects can encourage you to make other, healthier choices in your life. You might start eating healthier and exercising more, both of which lower blood pressure.
8. You’ll Notice A Reduction In Chronic Pain
Sometimes the best cure for chronic pain is to get outside and participate in active work. Volunteering requires you to move joints and muscles that you typically don’t use. This builds stronger bones and muscles, which alleviates the parts of your body that are painful.
9. You Make Lasting Connections
People are meant to have connections. When you volunteer, you’ll make friendships that last a lifetime. Having people who are like-minded and share the same values makes you happy and can boost your mental health. Plus, you’ll make connections with the people you’re helping, making you more motivated in life.
10. You’ll Be Satisfied With Your Life
Ultimately, when your health improves because of volunteering, your satisfaction with life will increase. People who find joy in living often have a better quality of life. You’ll find purpose in everything you do and cultivate more gratitude for what you have.
Gain These Health Benefits Even During A Pandemic
Although the pandemic and social distancing have limited volunteer opportunities, you can still find ways to get it done. Here are a few tips for you if you want to volunteer during this time:
- Follow social distancing rules, and make sure you’re healthy before volunteering with others.
- Volunteer without having to come in contact with others, like delivering meals or groceries to immunocompromised citizens.
- Offer social support, like making a phone call or sending a card, to an elderly family member or friend.
- Donate blood. During COVID-19, not as many people have been able to donate, so if you’re healthy and willing, find a blood drive near you.
- Support others financially, especially those without a job.
Don’t let the pandemic stop you from giving back!
Volunteer For Your Health
For a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life, find a volunteer opportunity near you! You’ll gain just as many benefits as those you’re helping.
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.