If you have ever volunteered, you may have noticed that you felt fantastic afterward. Maybe you saw a little boost in your mood, felt like part of a team, or left counting your blessings. People volunteer for many reasons, and while most don’t volunteer to benefit themselves, there may be more to volunteering than you realize. In reality, we notice a subtle shift in ourselves when we volunteer, feel more connected to others, and become less absorbed in the normal stresses of daily life.
The benefits of volunteering are countless with many social, emotional, physical, and professional perks. Here are fifteen proven benefits of volunteering.
Community, Loneliness, and Bonding
1. Builds Community - According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, you strengthen your community and your social network when you volunteer. You make connections with the people you are helping, and you cultivate friendships with other volunteers.
2. Ends Loneliness - One in ten adults reports that they have no close friends. Loneliness and social isolation are two of the most serious epidemics in the world today. The simplest way to reverse this? Volunteer!
3. Increases Socializing - Socially, the benefits to volunteering show up quickly and have long-term effects. Social interaction improves mental and physical health, while the benefits of consistent socializing include better brain function and lower risk for depression and anxiety.
4. Builds Bonds, Creates Friends - Volunteering creates stronger bonds between friends, family, and coworkers. People build closer relationships, better connections, and more powerful attachments to people when they work together.
Mental Health and Happiness in Volunteers
5. Develops Emotional Stability- Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, low self-esteem, and even Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder have all been improved by volunteering. When people with OCD, PTSD, or anger management issues volunteer, they feel more connected to others and have an increased sense of purpose. Connection and meaning translate to decreased symptoms and improved social function.
6. Improves Self-Esteem - When teens or young adults volunteer, they develop self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of self-worth. Consider the advantages to volunteering for teens and young adults with eating disorders, social anxiety, and depression. Volunteering could be life-changing (and life-saving).
7. Helps Those Most Affected by Mental Illness - On a more basic level, volunteering reduces stress and improves well-being. Volunteering gives people the tools they need to be happier, healthier, and well-rounded individuals. It also keeps us young.
Overall Health Improvements
8. Promotes Longevity - While everyone benefits from a little boost in physical health, long-term volunteers have longer lives, less disease, and better overall health. One report says that people who volunteer over 100 hours a year are some of the healthiest people in the U.S.
9. Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s - Alzheimer’s disease has become a frightening possibility for millions of individuals in the U.S. and globally. However, some research has shown that people who volunteer may be at lower risk of dementia from 65 years on.
10. Leads to Graceful Aging - Older volunteers benefit the most from getting out of the house, engaging with others, and moving physically. Purpose and collaboration result in mental health improvements and a better outlook on life.
11. Increases Weight Loss - With more people in traditional desk jobs, we live a more sedentary lifestyle than ever before. The risks associated with less daily movement include back pain, disease, obesity, and more stress and mental illness. When we volunteer, even if it is not a physically demanding project, we still get up and get moving.
Future Goals and Career Opportunities
12. Improves School and College Experience - For school-aged kids, volunteering builds social skills and develops awareness. High school students volunteer to boost their college applications, and college students volunteer to improve their job search post-graduation.
13. Provides Better Job Prospects - Many researchers have noticed that Millennials are some of the most civic-minded and socially-aware employees. They choose jobs that reflect their values and then continue to donate their money, time and skills. Volunteer hours also make for a more competitive resume in the job market. Employers overwhelmingly look favorably on job applicants who have volunteered.
14. Develops Corporate Communities - One of the biggest trends in the volunteer world today is corporate philanthropy. More big-name companies than ever support local and national programs financially. They create employee volunteer programs to support their philanthropic efforts and to retain employees.
15. Volunteering Adds Fun to Your Years - Volunteering and freely giving your time, energy, and resources to people and causes around the world can create change on a global scale. It is amazing to think that one person’s efforts can change the life of someone else. However, the best part, and often overlooked is that volunteering is just plain fun!
If you are ready to make friends, improve your mental and physical health, and maybe develop new skills along the way, visit www.centralkyserves.org today. You can change your life and the lives of others when you do. Don’t overlook the benefits of volunteering. Embrace them!