It is common to feel that you may be too busy to be able to dedicate time and energy to volunteer, but it might just be the secret to eliminating stress! Research shows that helping others is beneficial to your own mental health. Volunteering is a great way to benefit your community and help yourself at the same time!
1. Volunteering time makes you feel like you have more time
Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner wrote in the Harvard Business Review that those who volunteer their time feel like they have more of it. This is similar to other research showing that people who donate to charity feel wealthier.
2. Volunteering your skills helps you develop new skills
In my experience, skills-based volunteering is an excellent opportunity to develop talents to help you get ahead in your career. In fact, an article in Stanford Social Innovation Review called skills-based volunteering overseas “the next executive training ground.”
3. Volunteering your body helps you have a healthier body
A Corporation for National & Community Service report noted: “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”
4. Volunteering helps build your experience
We consistently see this with highly skilled professionals. Also, volunteering in a new industry will give you knowledge to help you switch fields. And if you want to move from the corporate world to the nonprofit sector, volunteering first can help prove your commitment.
5. Volunteering makes you feel loved
Admittedly, love is a hard thing to measure. But when researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Volunteering builds empathy, strengthens social bonds and makes you smile — all factors that increase the feeling of love.
Studies have found that helping others has benefits, both mental and physical, from lowering your blood pressure to reducing feelings of depression. And research has not found any significant difference in the types of volunteering—any kind of helpful act can create benefits.