Doing good for others makes people feel good. It helps them connect around a shared purpose and not only combats social isolation but can actually add years to their life. Positive feelings are linked to lower levels of stress, fostering deep happiness by satisfying the primal human desire; to help others, solve problems and work together.
Adults, who volunteer regularly, experience less depression and higher levels of life satisfaction. Those experiencing symptoms of disease and illness get distracted and their pain threshold increases. 40 percent are less likely to develop high blood pressure.
According to a study, volunteers who experienced health benefits clocked 200 hours of service per year, which is under 4 hours per week. The most beneficial of the service work was the one done outside the home, that requires physical activity such as sorting donations at a thrift shop, handing out water at a local charity walk or caring for the grounds at a church or school.
Adolescents, who volunteered one hour a week, improved their cardiovascular and mental health, dialing down cholesterol and BMI and increasing the levels of empathy and compassion. The act of providing for another, of extending kindness, boosts their strength and resilience.
Giving children ownership of their volunteering efforts boosts their morale, motivation and confidence. Engaging with them to work together at a food bank, an animal shelter, a youth camp or a soup kitchen will not only provide a satisfying purpose of life to all the volunteers but also create future enthusiasts.
Perhaps most important is finding a volunteer activity that aligns with your own gifts and talents. Those with a strong nurturing instinct can help soother babies in a crises nursery, outdoor enthusiasts can pitch in at a park clean up, bibliophiles can work in an adult literacy program.
Serving as volunteers is healthy for people at any age, for any gender and any race. Knowing yourself and discovering what brings you most satisfaction and what you are capable of is the key to success. If it's a good match, everybody wins!
Harness the health benefits of volunteer work. Help others, help yourself!