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Post | August 2019 | 2 min read

4 health benefits of volunteering

Written by Louise de Sadeleer
woman holding kale

Here is volunteering’s best-kept secret: it’s good for your health. Whether you do it because it’s compulsory, because you claim altruism, or simply want to do good, giving up personal free time to help someone else will make you a healthier person.

Physical wellness

Volunteering gets you moving and helps you develop healthy habits. Lots of volunteering opportunities involve some form of sport or outdoors activity, for example, volunteering at a summer camp or coaching a kids’ soccer team. Many such increase your life expectancy and decrease your risk of heart disease and memory loss. For older folks, volunteering can be a great way to stimulate the brain and encourage social interaction, which slows the onset of dementia. A great volunteering activity to try out is plogging- an eco-friendly fitness mashup of jogging and picking up trash as you go. Burning calories while helping the environment? What more could you want!

Emotional wellness

Volunteering does wonders for your emotional health and wellness. When doing good, your body releases dopamine, a “happy chemical” that improves your mood. Thus, it is not a coincidence that volunteers report lower levels of depression. In fact, people with OCD, PTSD, or anger management issues have benefitted from volunteering. It helps them feel more connected to others, improving emotional stability, and social function. And when teenagers and students volunteer, this leads to greater self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of self-worth. Why not volunteer as a counsellor or mentor? Learn to understand others to better understand yourself, and tune in to your own thoughts and feelings.

As they say, “love and be loved”. On top of serving others, the #dogood community can serve as a reliable support system and safety net for people going through rough times. Chances are you’ll find yourself surrounded by the caring and optimistic.

Social wellness

Volunteering is an inherently social activity. Whether you get involved at a local, national, or global level, you will be interacting with others in your community. Enrich your social life by cultivating healthy relationships, building a support network, and developing a sense of belonging. Befriending schemes are a popular choice for many, allowing you to train your communication skills while combatting old age loneliness.

Intellectual wellness

Volunteering keeps you active and inspired. Improve upon existing skills or explore new ones, all while sharing them with others around you. Get creative. Lead a team. Do some research. All that matters is that you keep learning.

Furthermore, when you dedicate your time to a volunteering project, you are contributing to a much larger cause. Whether it’s for people with disabilities, the environment, or social injustice and inequality, there is a lot to be learnt about the social, political, and economic situations that contribute to today’s problems.

If you’re a student with a busy schedule, find out how you can volunteer to enhance your education, complement your degree and improve your employability.

Volunteering that gets you thinking, feeling, and moving touches every aspect of your health. We urge you not to underestimate the importance of your physical, emotional, social, and intellectual wellbeing. A holistic lifestyle will lead to a fulfilled life, so volunteer for your community and for yourself!

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