Volunteering with a local organization is an amazing way to take part in the betterment of your community -- but the personal benefits of volunteering are just as compelling.
Along with helping local nonprofits and charities thrive while improving your community, volunteering can help improve your own social and mental health. Whether you volunteer a few times a year, one a month, or every week, the benefits of volunteering for yourself and your community are manifold. Here are 8 reasons to begin volunteering at a local organization!
1. Reduce Your Stress
Setting aside your issues and stressors to focus solely on someone else's problems is a proven method of reducing stress. Harvard Health Publishing reports that interrupting the constant flow of tension and stress you feel as a result of your busy life, you allow your mind and body to rest and regenerate¹. Volunteering and focusing on the needs of others can help to change the patterns of stress you feel in your own life, and give you a renewed sense of drive and purpose. Volunteering can also help you to develop new skills for stress and life management.
2. Learn Something New
Learning new skills, information, or ways of handling things is a great way to help your mind stay active and prevent yourself from sinking into health crippling patterns. By volunteering with a local organization, you may be asked to try tasks that you would never before have considered. You may find that the skills you develop in your time volunteering can carry over into your personal life, enriching how you interact with the world and how you participate in your community.
3. See Your Impact
So often the tasks of daily life can cloud our glowing achievements. There are too many things to do in a day, a month, or a year to stop and smell the roses. With volunteer work, the results of your labor are often immediate, or palpable beyond the level they may be in your personal life. See the real impact your time has made, watch your community improve, and gain the confidence to know you can make a difference in your social climate by volunteering.
4. Make New Friends
Along with being able to expand your skills and participate in your community, volunteering is an excellent way to open up your social circle. Finding like-minded people is quite easy when you are all volunteering for the same cause, so attending events or offering to help at a local organization is a great way to make new friends. Meeting new people can help you discover new ideas, become more involved in your community, and help you to maintain a healthy and thriving social life.
5. Improve Your Health
People that volunteer tends to live longer, suffer less from mental illness and have improved self-esteem. Volunteering allows you to feel a sense of purpose and gives you a palpable measure of the good you are doing. By feeling a sense of community and purpose, volunteers tend to` be more well adjusted, hold larger social circles, and -- according to the Mayo Clinic -- live longer than their non-volunteering peers².
6. Inspire Yourself
Volunteering can be a great way to pull yourself out of a rut and inspire new ways of filling your time and living your life. It is all too easy to stay within our spheres of influence and stagnate as we get busier in our personal lives. The danger of this is in not progressing and not learning, which can leave people feeling lost and listless. Volunteering is an excellent way to make sure you are always learning, trying new things, and finding ways to improve for the future.
7. Give Back
Part of maintaining a healthy social life and general social wellness is by giving back to the community that has given to you. Reciprocation and involvement in the community in which you live can help you connect not only to your friends and neighbors but to yourself. See and feel the impact you can make, become more solidified in your place in your community, show your friends and neighbors your commitment to their wellbeing, and reap the reward of a happy and healthy social climate.
8. Boost Your Confidence
To have a healthy social life and participate wholly it is crucial to work toward confidence. Volunteering, as mentioned, is a great way to see and measure the impact you can make upon your community. By gaining a greater understanding of your place in your community and within your social circles, you build confidence for the rest of your life. Confidence can help you to create lasting and healthy relationships with your friends and family, improve how you see yourself and give you the tools to continue helping your community.
(1) Harvard Health Publishing (March 2011) Understanding the stress response
(2) Mayo Clinic Health System (May 2017) Helping people, changing lives: The 6 health benefits of volunteering