Helper’s High—The Mental Benefits of Volunteering
Saying volunteering is good for you is like saying brushing is good for you teeth. It’s something we all know, but the benefits of helping others without any expectation of compensation can be more beneficial than you realize.
There’s no doubt that volunteering can make you feel good. Researchers at The Corporation for National & Community Service refer to this positive feeling as a “helper’s high”. Doing something truly altruistic should of course make you feel better, but there are other mental health benefits that go beyond this.
Focusing on something or someone else that is outside of your self and your own personal life can help destress your own mind. Addressing the needs of others really helps put into perspective your own needs and problems. “Volunteering is a great way to look outside your own problems, “ says self-help author Karen Salmansohn. “Giving back to makes you happier by both giving you a sense of purpose and helping to put your problems in perspective.”
The social benefits of volunteering can really help those later in life. This is the time when social roles tend to change, whether to due to a loss of a family member, children leaving the home, or the beginning of retirement from a long career. Finding a way to stay active in the community can have health benefits in these later years of life, such as “greater longevity, higher functional ability, or lower rates of depression”, according to The CNCS. Your mental and physical health improves with social interaction, which helps with your immune system, depression and anxiety.
Connecting to Others
Volunteering provides a physical and social sense of purpose. Being around other volunteers also can be a “high”, creating an upward spiral of giving back, a social network of new friends that you might not have met elsewhere. This leads to an increased trust in others and helps others trust you as well. Mental Health America found that 71 percent of people surveyed turned to friends or family in times of stress. Make life long friends by volunteering!
Reduce Stress, Lower Blood Pressure
Rodlescia Sneed, a doctoral candidate in social and health psychology at Carnegie Mellon University reports that volunteering makes people more physically active, which can lead to lower blood pressure. This, in turn, can also reduce stress. “Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes,” she says.
The Beacon of HOPE is dedicated to the well being of the members of our community. By volunteering with us, you might just find that you are helping yourself by helping others. Call us at 239-283-5123 or stop by today!