Volunteering appears to have an amazing ability to not only improve the health and well-being of those that are on the receiving end, but to also have a positive effect on the volunteer. A quick search of the web will reveal almost twenty million articles on how volunteering or doing good can benefit someone mentally, physically and emotionally. Multiple studies show that there are six main areas of life that volunteering can impact and all six areas show a positive increase! If physical health, life satisfaction, sense of control, happiness, level of depression and self-esteem are important to you, here’s a way to see a positive increase…Volunteer!
Your physical health can see an improvement with activities that get you moving and thinking at the same time. People who volunteer have also seen a reduction in blood pressure, which indicates an improvement in overall health. Many volunteers express greater satisfaction in their lives which is thought to be a byproduct of time spent in service to others. Giving and receiving appreciation adds to this satisfaction. Happiness and sense of control increase with a natural release of dopamine in the brain created by helping others. Depression risk is combatted by increasing social interaction and building a sense of community among other volunteers and those being helped. These support systems help reduce the risk of depression. Last, but certainly not least, is self-esteem. Volunteering creates a sense of purpose and fulfillment that boosts self-esteem. Plus, volunteering helps introduce new skills and experiences that increase self-confidence.
If positive increases in these areas are something you would like to achieve, volunteering will help you get there! There is a catch with these benefits though... your motivation matters! If you are volunteering for reasons that only benefit you, you may not see the positive health increase. Considering others first is a key factor in reaping positive rewards.
Another key factor is the amount of time dedicated to volunteering. Setting aside one holiday weekend of service is great, but do not expect the same long term health benefits of those that have made volunteering a habit. Try committing 40 hours or more a year to regularly scheduled volunteer events and you are well on your way to reaching that happy place in volunteering. We’re talking less than an hour a week!
As you can see, being a volunteer has as many perks for you as it does for those that benefit from your service. It’s a win-win. Don’t question it and yes, you have time and talent that is greatly needed. Find your installation Volunteer Coordinator today and VOLUNTEER!