Most of us lead incredibly busy lives and we feel that, as much as we would like to volunteer, we simply don’t have the time. However, perhaps if you knew about the benefits of volunteering, you may consider making a little bit of time for it. Let’s take a look at what volunteering is, and how it can help to benefit your own health.
What Is Volunteering?
The first thing you have to understand is what it means to volunteer.
Words and phrases like “altruism” or “doing good” come to mind.
Essentially, when you volunteer, you provide the community, worthwhile causes, and needy people the help that they desperately require. In addition, being a volunteer is also good for you. What volunteering does for you is give you the happiness effect.
Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy – a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000-$100,000 versus $20,000, say the researchers.”
What this means is that, by volunteering, you don’t just help individuals and the community, you help yourself as well. According to researchers, this is done because you develop social connections to others, because you can advance your personal career, because you get fulfillment and happiness in your life, and because it improves your mind and body. Yes, volunteering will make you healthy, in other words.
How Volunteering Makes You Healthy
By volunteering, you have access to both physical and psychological health benefits. This is because, when you volunteer, you combat anxiety, anger, and stress. Additionally, when you build your social capital, you improve your overall health and happiness as well.
Social capital may be defined as those resources inherent in social relations which facilitate collective action. Social capital resources include trust, norms, and networks of association representing any group which gathers consistently for a common purpose. A norm of a culture high in social capital is reciprocity, which encourages bargaining, compromise, and pluralistic politics. Another norm is belief in the equality of citizens, which encourages the formation of cross-cutting groups.
Furthermore, research has shown that volunteering does a lot more as well. First, because you will regularly have contact with other people, you can help fight depression. It will also make you happy. Various pieces of research have shown that people who volunteer and help others feel immense pleasure. In fact, the more they give, the happier they will feel.
Next, you will increase your self-confidence. Because you help others, you will feel, quite rightly, that you have accomplished something. You can build an identity based on pride, viewing your own life on a more positive note. Plus, you will get a sense of purpose as well. This can be very important for those who are retired, or otherwise unable to engage in activities such as work or having a social life.
Last but not least, there is the physical health element. Various studies demonstrated that the mortality rate in volunteers is lower than in the regular population. This is probably because volunteers move more, feel less stress, and keep their mind active as well. These are all important elements of leading a long, happy, and healthy life.