Many of us have volunteered at soup kitchens, coached minor league teams, or even participated in Habitat for Humanity home construction projects. In addition to helping others, volunteering our time, talents, and energy has various positive effects on our mental health. As long as the activity is rewarding and something to look forward to rather than just another task on our long to-do list, research has indicated that 2-3 hours per week (or roughly 100 hours per year) can bring the most significant benefits.
So why volunteer?
It might be challenging to find time to volunteer when you lead a hectic life. Nonetheless, there can be significant advantages to volunteering. Volunteering provides essential assistance to those in need, deserving causes, and the community, but the advantages can also extend to you, the volunteer. You may discover friends, become involved in the community, pick up new skills, and even improve in your profession with the perfect match.
Volunteering can also help you maintain good physical and mental health. It can alleviate stress, treat depression, keep your mind active, and give you a sense of direction. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment or take a lot of time out of your hectic schedule, although it is true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll enjoy, both physically and mentally.
Here are five benefits of volunteering that can boost your physical and mental health
Decreased Risk of Depression
Making new acquaintances while volunteering is a terrific strategy to boost social engagement and grow your support system. It introduces you to people who share your interests and makes you feel connected and a part of the community.
According to research, all of these factors reduce the likelihood of developing sadness, anxiety, and loneliness.
A mental health boost
You feel happier after giving of your time to others. For instance, if being around animals makes you happy, working at an animal shelter will do the same. You can’t help but feel content when you’re making a difference in the world and supporting a cause that means something to you.
Also, studies have shown that when you engage in positive social interaction, your body really releases endorphins, just like it does after a strenuous workout.
Increased physical activity
Moving is required for many volunteer activities, including leading dance classes at assisted living facilities, giving museum tours, distributing fliers, washing cars for fundraisers, and so on. All of these activities raise your heart rate, although their physical activity levels differ.
Nevertheless, according to a recent study, volunteers reported more excellent physical health than non-volunteers.
You can find a sense of appreciation and purpose by volunteering and helping others, which can help you relax. Not to mention, socializing relieves tension and allows you to shut off worries. Exercise has also been shown to be essential in preventing and minimizing the consequences of stress. At the very least, being aware of the difficulties others who are less fortunate than you endure may help you put your hardships into perspective.
Low risk of hypertension
Older persons who volunteered at least 200 hours annually had a 40% lower risk of hypertension. These results shouldn’t come as a surprise because a healthy heart results from increased physical activity and lower stress.
You risk having a stroke, heart failure, and possibly an early death if your blood pressure is consistently high.
The advantages of time volunteering are that it helps you live a healthier, and maybe longer, life. But on the other hand, high blood pressure, sadness, loneliness, and increased stress may negatively impact your health.
Therefore, Volunteering has been shown to have a positive effect on both mental health and cognitive abilities. In addition, engaging in a common mission or cause with others makes you feel more connected and valuable and spurs happier thoughts and a more positive outlook.