Why volunteering is good for your mental and physical health

Volunteering is considered an act of kindness in which a person, business or organisation offer their help completely un-paid. By offering their time to support a non-profit organisation or an individual that need their support, a volunteer is helping to give back to their community as well as gaining some valuable experience of their own.

Credit: Sadhana Forest

Why volunteer?

In times of need it is crucial for people to offer their help to their community, people in need and to charities that are unable to function without a helping hand. Not only are you able to provide them with an ability to continue in their daily lives but volunteering can be ultimately rewarding for you too. The right opportunity can open doors for you in future careers, help you develop skills that will prepare you for life and even help you connect with people you wouldn’t normally interact with.

 

Why is volunteering is good for your mental health?

Volunteering can be a great way to increase your morale and help boost your mental health if you feel as though you need a sense of belonging. It can also help combat issues such as anxiety, depression and reduce your levels of stress by opening you up to opportunities that can be fulfilling and distracting. By doing something selfless you will instantly feel a sense of purpose and will help put a smile on someone else’s face too.

Volunteering promotes social interaction, this is something that many people with depression will find hard to do in their usual routines but branching out helps to break down those barriers. By doing good for others you will also feel a sense of accomplishment whilst keeping you mentally stimulated.

Volunteering doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to give up a lot of your own time. There are many chances to give back to your community that can only take a few minutes, such as donating items that you no longer need or by providing people will a service that you can offer for free such as car washing or arts and crafts projects in return for donations.

Credit: Tracy Le Blanc

How does volunteering help you gain contacts?

Volunteering can open up a whole world of doors for you as an individual. It allows you to develop the relationships that you already have if you participate in a group activity with friends, family or an existing partner. It is also a great chance to connect with people outside of your usual social circle by providing you with new contacts, especially if you are new to the area. It will expose you to people that have the same common interests, the same social groups but will allow you to converse with people outside of your usual comfort zone creating relationships that could last a lifetime.

How does volunteering helps you broaden your social abilities?

Some people are naturally crowd pleasers and are able to communicate flawlessly from the get go but that isn’t the case for everyone. Others may have reserved feelings about openly discussing their lives with strangers as well as bouts of anxiety that may also play a role in making instant communications difficult. Volunteering gives you a shot at developing your social skills on a daily basis, once you have the motivation behind you it can be a lot easier to speak out, especially with people that have similar interests to you.

 

Credit: Luis Quintero

Why does it help you stay physically healthy?

If you were to undertake a volunteering opportunity that allows you a chance to be more physically active you may find that it can help increase your health and your stamina. Some examples of this include excursions to a developing country where you will have to exercise more and increase your natural rates of productivity. It can also help inspire people with weight gain issues to exercise more regularly then they usually would as well as access to unhealthy food being limited.

Where can I find volunteering opportunities?

VolunteerMatch – Find opportunities that match your volunteer interests, from location to type of work. (VolunteerMatch)

Idealist – Find volunteer opportunities in your local area or internationally. (Idealist)

Volunteer – Directory of environmental volunteer opportunities. (Volunteer.gov)

The Red Cross – Volunteer in any of the Red Cross’s key service areas. (Red Cross)