Woman Delivering Food in Paper Bag During COVID 19 Outbreak.

Volunteering: 10 Ways It Makes Your Life Better

Why People Volunteer

Have you considered volunteering in your community or for a cause you care about? You may not have considered the many benefits of volunteering, some of those being unexpected benefits, and how volunteering can positively affect everyone involved. We at Habitat for Humanity know the benefits of volunteering well, so let’s talk about why people volunteer, the importance of community services, and how being a community volunteer can make a difference in your life and the lives of others. 

Benefits of Volunteering 

The beauty of volunteering is that people do it to help others, whether people or animals. Many people start as community volunteers because they want to help those less fortunate than themselves. Once you start to help others, you instantly start seeing the benefits of volunteering in yourself and your life. These unexpected benefits include improving your emotional, social, and even physical health, not to mention your professional life. The benefits of volunteering are endless, so here are a few to start! Studies have shown that volunteer work is even more valuable than the work we do for monetary gain.

Community Building

Volunteering, Charity, People and Ecology Concept - Group of Happy Volunteers With Tree Seedlings and Gardening Tools in Park

To directly engage with your community, start volunteering! When you volunteer, you not only build your community, but you build your social network and make countless valuable connections with new people as well. Many people create lifelong friendships with other people who volunteer. By volunteering and creating these meaningful, long-lasting relationships, you can combat any isolation or loneliness you may be experiencing socially as well. 

Mental Health Benefits

One of the unexpected benefits of volunteering is improving your mental health. As humans, we crave and need meaningful connections with other people. Volunteering increases socialization, and consistent socialization lowers your risk of anxiety and depression and creates better brain function. In addition to improving your mental health, the benefits of volunteering also positively affect your physical health by improving your immune system. 

A Long and Happy Life

We know why people volunteer – the importance of community services is inevitable! But did you know that volunteering helps people to develop and improve emotional stability as well? Because volunteering requires other community volunteers, friends, family, and co-workers to work closely together, creating more powerful connections and relationships. Through this teamwork, volunteering is proven to help people live longer, happier, and more meaningful lives. 

A Sense of Purpose

Volunteering has been directly shown to improve and create emotional stability. Things like low self-esteem, PTSD, depression, anger management issues, and even OCD improve through volunteer work by helping people connect to others and feel a sense of purpose. These meaningful connections created by volunteering positively impact and improve social function and decrease symptoms of these conditions. 

Better Self-Esteem 

Many teens and young adults experience low self-esteem or self-worth and suffer from conditions such as eating disorders, depression, social anxiety, body dysmorphia, and more. Volunteering can be not only life-changing, but it can save lives as well. When young people start as community volunteers, the benefits of volunteering and helping others takes effect quickly by improving self-worth and image, self-esteem, and confidence. 

Animal Therapy 

You may wonder why people volunteer with animals, and the answer goes deeper than dogs being man’s best friend. The benefits of volunteering with animals or animal shelters are endless, especially if you live with mental illness or different mental or physical abilities. Studies have shown that people are calmer and happier when they work with dogs, directly and positively impacting not only the animals but also the volunteers. Such programs are available for incarcerated individuals who struggle with mental illness and veterans recovering from PTSD. Volunteering with animals reduces stress and improves well-being overall. 

A Long, Happy, and Healthy Life

Research has shown that volunteering can promote a long, happy, and healthy life. People who volunteer are recorded as living longer with less disease and better health overall. Engaging in social service has improved elasticity in the brain, which lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Social interaction helps delay and prevent Alzheimer’s, and volunteers are often better able to maintain connections in their brain that can otherwise break down when not engaged consistently. 

Aging Gracefully 

Happy Volunteer Family Separating Donations Stuffs on a Sunny Day

Volunteering benefits people of all ages! Volunteering at and through your older age can have tremendous physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits. Volunteering forces you to get up and out of the house for a good cause, literally getting people moving physically and gets you engaging with others as well. These can fall to the wayside as many individuals age, but volunteering helps counter this! We know that being active, physically and mentally, leads to health and happiness. Another of the unexpected benefits of volunteering is that it can help lower risks of heart disease and help people living with chronic illnesses and/or pain have fewer symptoms. 

Exercise

As more and more people work desk jobs, our society tends to have very sedentary lifestyles, which leads to many physical issues such as increased risks for disease, obesity, back and neck pain, and more. Even though volunteering is not always physically demanding, it makes you get out and get moving. Volunteer positions, like a food bank or shelter, or volunteering at an elderly or nursing home, all allow you to get up from your desk and get active. More actively physically engaging volunteer options are out there, such as working with the national parks system or youth sports. Many volunteers are shown to take better care of their physical health, such as maintaining a healthy weight and staying up to date with vaccinations. When you volunteer, you are investing just as much in your well-being as you are investing in the well-being of others. 

Improves Educational and Professional Opportunities

Many schools, colleges, and workplaces emphasize being a community volunteer and the importance of community services in getting accepted or hired. It can make or break educational and professional opportunities for young adults when it comes to having volunteered on your resume. Why not take that step in improving your outlook on getting into the school of your dreams or getting that position or promotion at your dream job? Volunteering directly benefits others and yourself, so shoot for the stars and make a difference in the process!

Volunteering with Limited Mobility

Whether you live with a disability, lack transportation or the means to take transportation, have time constraints, or otherwise, you can still engage in meaningful volunteer work! There are many projects and ways to help others and organizations in need from your own home. Whether you prefer digital projects such as writing or graphic design and illustration or volunteering via the computer or phone banking, many options are available. Some organizations could use the help designing a website or organizing and answering emails. Reach out to local or national organizations you care about to see how you can help within your means! All volunteer work is valuable and makes a difference. 

Embrace the Benefits of Volunteering

Now that you know more about the many benefits (some even unexpected) of volunteering and community service, you can embrace it! It is amazing to think how the efforts, time, energy, and passion of one individual can significantly impact another person’s life or the lives of many. At Habitat for Humanity, we believe in bettering the lives and futures of others for generations to come. Visit our website to learn more about what we do and start making a difference today!