Thursday, October 24, 2013

Make Your Life Better By Making Other's Lives Better: Volunteer


Written by: Lauren Lind


Volunteering is not only good for the community, but studies have shown that it can help protect physical and mental health. You are in regular contact with others and you develop a solid support system when you volunteer, which has been shown to protect you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times. Personally, I find volunteering very important and just imagine the changes we could make in the world by volunteering a small amount of our time every week to a cause. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Here are some of the benefits of volunteering:

• It connects you to others, helping you make new friends and contacts while increasing your social and relationship skills.

• Volunteering is good for your mind and body by increasing self confidence and combating depression. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not.

• Volunteering increases happiness levels. Researchers at the London School of Economics studied the relationship between volunteering and levels of happiness in a large group of American adults. They discovered that the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. “Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000, say the researchers. Giving time to religious organizations had the greatest impact” (helpguide.org).

• Being a volunteer can help advance your career by providing career experience and teaching you valuable job skills. It also doesn’t hurt to have volunteer activities on your resume. Showing that you give your time to help others makes you more appealing to employers.

• It brings a sense of purpose, fun, and fulfillment into your life.

These are just some of the many benefits of volunteering. Here are some great websites to help you find opportunities near you helpguide.org, volunteermatch.org, volunteer.colorado.edu, bouldercounty.org, and metrovolunteers.org.

Contributors: helpguide.org - Joanna Saisan, M.S.W., Melinda Smith, M.A., and Gina Kemp, M.A.