I never thought much about volunteering until I found myself in a personal rut. Life was good, but something was missing. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled or happy. However, all that changed when I volunteered at a local shelter. As I gave back to my community, I felt a sense of purpose and joy that I had never experienced before. It was a powerful feeling that made me wonder – Why do I want to volunteer? What is it about giving back that feels so rewarding? In this piece, I’ll break down the psychological and emotional hooks that make volunteering such a powerful force for good in our lives.
Why do I want to volunteer?
Overall, volunteering can be a fulfilling experience that offers both personal and interpersonal benefits. It provides a way to give back to the community while also improving one’s own physical and mental health.
???? Pro Tips:
1. Identify your values: Before signing up to volunteer, take some time to reflect on your personal values and what causes you are passionate about. This will help you find volunteer opportunities that align with your beliefs and will make the experience more fulfilling.
2. Discover new skills: Volunteering can be a great way to learn new skills or hone existing ones. Consider looking for volunteer opportunities that will help you develop skills that you can use in your personal or professional life.
3. Meet new people: Volunteering can also be a great way to meet new people and expand your social circle. You may even meet individuals who share similar interests or goals, which can lead to new friendships or networking opportunities.
4. Give back to your community: Volunteering is a way to make a positive impact on your community and those around you. By giving your time and energy to a cause you believe in, you can help make a difference in the lives of others.
5. Gain a sense of purpose: Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose or fulfillment that may be missing from your life. By helping others and contributing to a cause, you may feel a greater sense of personal satisfaction and meaning.
Why Do I Want to Volunteer?
Volunteering is a selfless act that involves dedicating your time, skills, and resources to serve others without expecting anything in return. People choose to volunteer for various reasons, such as improving their social skills, gaining experience, fulfilling a sense of personal gratification, or simply to give back to the community. However, beyond the personal gratification that comes with volunteering, there are several benefits to both physical and mental health that may not be apparent at first glance.
Benefits of Volunteering for Physical Health
Volunteering has been shown to impact positively on physical health, and some health experts term it as “prescription for good health”. Here’s how:
Enhances Physical Activity: Volunteering is often an active engagement that may require some level of physical activity such as cleaning, walking, or lifting. Continuous engagement with such physical activity can be instrumental in reducing risks of cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, stroke, and obesity.
Lowered Blood Pressure: A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University showed that individuals who volunteered had lower blood pressure than those who did not. Higher blood pressure over time leads to hypertension, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
Longevity: It’s not surprising that volunteering may increase your life expectancy. According to a study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), volunteers have a lower mortality rate than those who don’t volunteer.
Benefits of Volunteering for Mental Health
Volunteering isn’t just good for your physical health. It can also have many mental health benefits, such as:
Reduced Depression Rates: Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to depression. Volunteering provides an opportunity for social interaction and can reduce the risk of depression in people.
Reduced Risk of Dementia: Volunteering can also slow down cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia. A study by the Rush University Medical Center found that people who volunteered were 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who didn’t.
Increased Confidence and Self-Esteem: Volunteering can boost your confidence and self-esteem by making you feel like you’re making a difference in the world. It can also help you build new skills and make new social connections.
Volunteering Reduces Stress and Tension
Volunteering can significantly reduce stress and tension. Here’s how:
- Shifts Focus: Volunteering takes your focus off your own problems and allows you to concentrate on helping others.
- Increases Social Support: Volunteering provides the opportunity to meet new people, form new social connections, and strengthen existing ones. This can be an excellent source of emotional support.
- Increased Empathy: Volunteering can help develop empathy, which is the ability to understand and share others’ feelings. This can reduce tension and conflict in relationships.
Volunteering Improves Moods and Emotions
Volunteering can improve your moods and emotions in the following ways:
Increases Happiness: Volunteering has been found to be a mood enhancer, leaving volunteers feeling happy, satisfied, and accomplished.
Reduces Anxiety: Anxiety can stem from a fear of the unknown. When you volunteer, you become more knowledgeable about your community, and as a result, may feel less anxious.
Increases Sense of Purpose: Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose by providing a goal to work towards and making a meaningful impact on people’s lives.
Boosting Your Immune System with Volunteering
According to research, volunteering can boost your immune system, which helps fight off diseases and infections. Here’s how:
Reduced Stress: Lower stress levels due to volunteering help in reducing inflammation, which can lead to various maladies like arthritis, asthma, heart disease, and others.
Increased Social Engagement: Volunteering often involves team activities that allow for social engagement, which leads to improved immunity. A social connection helps to activate the release of oxytocin in your system which is known as a healing hormone.
Better Health Behaviors: Volunteers are often encouraged to practice healthy behavior and consume a balanced diet, which leads to increased energy, better health, and an improved immune system.
The Sense of Control Over Your Destiny with Volunteering
Volunteering can give you a sense of control over your destiny. This is because you have control over the causes you choose to support and how much time or money you want to invest in them.
People who volunteer often lead us to believe that they do it to benefit others. However, it benefits them in untold ways. Volunteering has the potential to improve both physical and mental health while also play a role in improving longevity. So, why not take some time to give back?