For many, volunteering is seen as a pastime for retirement. But that is simply not the case. Many young and middle-aged people volunteer along-side work and kids.
One of the reasons they do it is because it is surprisingly good for your mental health.
You can only truly understand the benefits of volunteering by giving it a go but keep reading to get a taster of what you can expect if put your hand (and time) to some charity work.
DO SOME GOOD IN THE WORLD
Most of us start volunteering to do some good in the world.
And this is a great motive.
Whether it’s helping other people, animals or the planet we live on, you simply can’t help but feel damn good about yourself.
And, feeling damn good about yourself is a brilliant starting point for improved mental health.
GET A SENSE OF BELONGING
Usually when you sign up for charity work, you will find yourself working as part of a team.
Being part of team makes us feel like an integral part of something important with united and common goals.
It’s a great feeling which not only provides a sense of purpose amongst like-minded people but also imparts the warm, fuzzy glow of belonging.
VOLUNTEERING REDUCES STRESS
Been feeling a little stressed lately?
Charity work could be the perfect tonic to keep you calm.
According to Mayo Clinic:
“Volunteering reduces stress and increases positive, relaxed feelings by releasing dopamine. By spending time in service to others, volunteers report feeling a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect.”
So there you have it … a more positive mindset which lowers stress. What’s not to love about volunteering?
Further reading: Stress relief: 10 Calming tips for single mothers.
DISCOVER YOUR COMMUNITY THROUGH VOLUNTEERING
The combination of our online world and the covid heath pandemic has left many people disengaged from the community in which they live. This can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and depression.
Wherever you are, you are part of a community, even if you have not yet connected with it.
Volunteering is the perfect solution.
Sign up to local charity work to not only discover your community but to become a star member in it!
TAKE THE FOCUS OFF ‘YOU’ BY HELPING OTHERS
Us humans are naturally self-centred souls. We spend our lives in our own heads and in our immediate worlds that concentrate on ourselves and families.
This is understandable.
Yet, shifting your focus and doing something to help people outside the periphery of your life is very liberating.
Giving yourself a break from yourself and do something completely selfless for an instant mental health fix.
MAKE NEW FRIENDS THROUGH CHARITY WORK
Lacking in friends? You are not alone.
Many friendships are made by committing to work at a local charity store or offering your services to assist a charity event.
Remember, you’ll be mixing with people who you already know have similar values to you, so you are part-way there on the friend front.
Having good friends is hugely important to good mental health. And, finding kindred spirits through volunteering is a little-known yet sure-fire way to increase your friendship circle.
CHARITY WORK INCREASES SELF ESTEEM
If your confidence has taken a knock, then volunteering is the perfect solution to claw it back.
When you commit to charity work you are expected to turn-up on time and complete your tasks. However, because you are not being paid there is less pressure on performance which takes away the worry that you won’t be good enough.
Charity workers are in such high demand that anything you can offer will be greatly appreciated … and appreciation is great for self-esteem and confidence.
Many people volunteer as a gate-way to the workforce if they have been out of it for a while and are a little nervous about re-entry.
DUST OFF SOCIAL SKILLS
Yep, the pandemic has left its mark on our social skills. With many people not setting foot outside their homes for months, is it any wonder they need a little dusting off?
Instead of meeting people in bars or cafes where the focus is on socialising, get volunteering where the social aspect comes naturally and will help you find your groove again.
Having confidence when you socialise makes you feel more relaxed and able to enjoy the company of others … all of which is very good for mental health.
VOLUNTEERING MAKES YOU FEEL HAPPY
When it comes to our mental health it’s fair to say we are all on a quest for happiness.
For this reason, you may be interested to know that volunteering has been proven to make people happier.
In a study by the Journal of Happiness Studies it was discovered that:
“Enjoyable and meaningful activities like helping others can increase your happiness. Therefore, people who volunteer are happier than those who do not.”
LOOKS GOOD ON YOUR RESUME
So, what does your resume have to do with your mental health?
Having an impressive career history makes us feel proud about how far we have come. It is also a magic wand when it comes to getting the jobs we really want.
Listing volunteering on a resume says a lot about the person you are. Like being hard-working, forward-thinking, kind and willing to go over and above.
If you volunteer make sure you shout it from the roof-tops and get the praise you deserve … which, of course, is another mental health enhancer!