THE BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERING
Have you ever felt really good about helping a friend or neighbor in a time of need? If so, you probably experienced a release of endorphins lighting up the pleasure and reward portions of your brain. Researchers call this the “helper’s high” and it occurs when you show kindness toward others. So, if you are looking to boost your spirits and do some good in the world, volunteering is a great idea!
By Wendi Ostroff
Volunteering, often called Community Service, can be an opportunity to give of one’s already honed skills (tutor, coach, doctor, cook…) or it can result in finding new interests, talents, and passions for people of all ages. Research from the Corporation for National & Community Service finds that volunteering provides social, health, and career benefits for the volunteer in addition to helping fellow citizens and raising up communities.
Benefits for volunteers:
Social: Giving our time to improve the lives of others is beneficial for everyone involved. Feeling needed and worthwhile raises confidence and self-esteem. Making new friends and garnering new perspectives can be life changing.
Health: People who volunteer live longer! The reasons for this are not absolute, but the research suggests that people who help others have less stress, lower rates of depression, and are more physically active due to feeling connected to their communities. Being involved in community activities is healthy and introduces new skills and hobbies.
Career: The acquired skills and personal contacts made while volunteering can assist in landing a new job (especially for young people with short resumes). Being less stressed and healthier translates well to the workplace for all ages, and makes for more productive individuals.
All in all, volunteering demonstrates a compassion for others, a desire to get involved, and a willingness to develop new skills. Volunteering creates meaningful experiences to prepare for college, career, and life.
“The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research”
The origin of the term “helper’s high”
UCSD blog about volunteering