11 Benefits of Volunteering
Builds Strong Communities
When you volunteer, you make connections with other volunteers to tackle challenges facing your community. Even helping out with a small task can make a big difference in the lives of others.
Loneliness and social isolation are two severe epidemics in the world today that can lead to significant health risks. Although loneliness can affect anyone, older adults have a higher risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone and the loss of family or friends. Volunteering connects people and helps strengthen bonds between friends, family, and coworkers.
Volunteering can be life-changing in many ways, especially for those who suffer from low self-esteem. Helping others and the community can boost confidence by providing a sense of accomplishment. Volunteering can also give you a sense of pride and identity.
Reduces Risk of Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are frightening possibilities for millions of individuals. However, research has shown that volunteering may reduce the risk of dementia. Further studies indicate that social service improves elasticity in the brain. So, as volunteers age, volunteering may help them maintain the connections in their brains that often break down in patients with dementia.
Improves Physical Health and Longevity
Research shows that volunteers are healthier and have a lower mortality rate than those who do not volunteer. One study found that people who volunteer over 100 hours a year are some of the healthiest people in the US. Volunteering can also minimize chronic pain symptoms and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Provides a Sense of Purpose and Direction
Volunteering can add new meaning to the lives of young people who haven’t yet found their path and older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse. Regardless of your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life.
Contemporary social neuroscience research shows that when people donate to charity, either financially or through volunteering, the mesolimbic system, the portion of the brain responsible for feelings of reward, is triggered. As a result, the brain releases feel-good chemicals, spurring you to perform more kind acts—something psychologists call “helper’s high.”
Helps Counteract the Effects of Stress, Anger, Anxiety, and Depression
Few things relieve stress better than a meaningful connection to another person. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can profoundly affect your overall psychological well-being and help bolster your support system, which can protect you from anxiety and depression.
Doing good for others and the community provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. When you feel better about yourself, you are more likely to view your life and future goals positively.
Advances Your Career
Volunteering provides opportunities to build and practice valuable job skills used in the workplace—teamwork, communication, problem-solving, project planning, task management, and organization. Whether you’re considering a new career or simply interested in upgrading your skills, volunteering can include useful training.
Volunteering is also a great way to try out a new career without making a long-term commitment and gaining experience in a new field. For example, if you’re interested in nursing, volunteering at a hospital or a nursing home can expose you to that environment.
Improves School and College Experience
Young people still in school obtain social skills and develop awareness as volunteers. It can also boost college applications, and job resumes. Volunteering can also help college students improve their job search post-graduation.