Feel Healthier and Happier by Volunteering!
“To serve others and do good.” ~The Greek philosopher Aristotle
As a social worker, one would naturally think that I love to help others 24/7. But the reality is – I get exhausted, too. Some days, I come home after work and don’t feel like socializing. I get mentally and sometimes physically tired. When my days feel stressful, I find ways to reduce it whether it’s taking a nice hot shower, play with my dog, or taking a few deep breaths. Despite the nature of my work, having to be around people all the time, I ironically also volunteer to keep me from burning out. While I love my paying job, volunteering allows me to break away from my daily routine or to try something new. I also feel extra good when I know I can make my time useful in other areas of my life. That’s why I never mind volunteering with my local Jeep group or at our church.
This blog post implies for people who want to volunteer to help others. But here is why it’s good for you, too:
You Only Need Two Things to Get Started: Passion and Positivity
Volunteering takes passion and you do it because you know it will help others. You sacrifice your time for others, creating a positive perspective and a sense of well-being for yourself. When you have passion, it emotionally creates your willingness to care for others than yourself. It’s a call to action, and that action can be made by volunteering. Having positivity evokes a positive attitude and leaves you feeling fulfilled.
Stress-Reducing and Physically Good For You
There are studies out there that show volunteering your time to help others helps lower your blood pressure. How? Researchers indicate that volunteering is connected to building self-esteem, releasing feel-good hormones and reducing stress, and help keeps you active. Volunteering helps reduce heart disease, stroke, and premature death (you’ll live longer!). It literally is good for your heart!
Volunteering makes one for a happier person as studies state it helps ward off depression and loneliness. When you feel better about yourself, you have a better view of your own values, life, and your future. Volunteering at a shelter, walking dogs on top of physical activity, is one way to improve your mood and combat anxiety. Researchers say that volunteering increases brain activity, and when helping others feel good it makes us happy, too. Volunteering is a way you can socially connect and feel a part of something, a sense of purpose if you will. Wouldn’t you want to be working with and surrounded by others who want to do good, too?
Socially Good For You and Enhances Your Relationships
Volunteering increases your social and relationship skills, gives you an opportunity to create a support system, and helps you to connect and meet new people. Do it with your partner or with your family, and you’ll create a meaningful connection and enhance your relationship. My partner, “Maestro”, and I try to volunteer with the church when we can. Not only do we feel like a team, but I appreciate even more to be with someone who shares the same beliefs and values. Teach your children the value of helping others and the community. My mother used to volunteer her time with the Red Cross when I was a child. Now I do as an adult.
It Can Help Advance Your Career
You can use volunteer experience on your resume. I’ve been a supervisor in which I’ve had to help with interviewing employee prospects. I’ve also helped students and peers with tips on their resume as well as preparing for interviews. One of the main advice I give is to find time to volunteer. Nowadays, employers want to see personality with their good work ethic. They like to know that the people they hire have good value and character traits. Volunteering can also enhance creativity, critical thinking, and skills. You may also consider volunteering at a place you can possibly see yourself working as a full-time job.
So how can you volunteer?
Think about where you’d like to start. What causes are important to you? Do you want to improve the community in which you live? Does your church or a local club need help? Maybe it’s a place you have a hobby or interest such as an animal shelter or a 5K fundraising event.
- Volunteer Match has a search engine for volunteer opportunities
- Volunteer.gov if you want to improve the environment and enjoy the outdoors
- Peace Corps if you want to make a difference in communities all over the world
- You can contact your local non-profit organizations, church, after school programs, and soup kitchens
- American Red Cross for humanitarian work
- Nursing homes
- Crisis hotline
- Tutor students
- You can even volunteer online. This is perfect for those introverts who prefer to socialize less, but would still like to help serve others. For example, the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces provides 24/7 emergency communications where volunteers make follow-up case calls to service members and their families once the message has been sent.
The possibilities are endless. When thinking about volunteering, think about what skills you can bring with you, how much time you’re willing to commit, and the impact for you and the valuable time you put in. Don’t be afraid of change, for change, if this is your first time volunteering. Ask questions, get to know what you’re getting into, and don’t feel pressured into volunteering. Don’t worry about how much time you should put it into it. That’s the beauty of volunteering! It’s voluntary time you are willing to do to help others. For the most part, organizations/people are grateful for any help at all. But, volunteering doesn’t have to be solely with organizations. You can start off small and offer to help a friend or family member. Change their oil. Offer to help do yard work. Get with your wheeling buds and do maintenance on your rigs. Go hiking with friends and pick up trash.
What are some examples or ways you have volunteered?