Volunteering is the secret weapon of successful, happy people.
Finding time to give back to the community and to make new connections has been proven to improve not only the lives of others, but your own life as well.
HelpGuide.org says that the benefits of volunteering are:
- It helps you make new friends and contacts
- It increases your social and relationship skills
- It increases self-confidence
- It combats depression
- It helps you stay physically healthy
- It can provide career experience
- It can teach you valuable job skills
- It brings fun and fulfilment to your life.
The Australian Unity and Deakin University Wellbeing Survey has consistently found that people who volunteer tend to have higher levels of wellbeing.
The Survey Report states that while it is hard to distinguish whether it is because people with higher wellbeing tend to volunteer or if volunteering actually improves our wellbeing, the consensus is that “a combination of the interaction provided by volunteering and the personal satisfaction achieved is likely to have a positive impact on our happiness”.
Another research report conducted by a Washington D.C.-based corporation for National and Community Service recently revealed that charitable work could literally make the heart grow stronger.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett from Forbes.com, who reported on the research, says that, “Individuals with coronary artery disease who participate in volunteer activities after suffering a heart attack report a reduction in despair and depression, and that, in turn, drives down mortality and adds years to your life. It’s also true that those who volunteer have fewer incidents of heart disease in the first place.”.
Ms Hewlett goes on to explain that, “surprisingly, you don’t need to devote huge chunks of time to doing good activities to reap their health benefits”.
“The research shows tangible positive changes by volunteering just 100 hours per year- a figure that works out to a not-too-onerous two hours per week.”
“When it comes to giving back, everybody wins,” said Ms Hewlett.
Tips for getting started for volunteering:
- First, ask yourself if there is something specific you want to do.
- For example, do I want to:
- make it better around where I live
- meet people who are different from me
- try something new
- do something with my spare time
- see a different way of life and new places
- have a go at the type of work I might want to do as a full-time job
- do more with my interests and hobbies
- do something I’m good at.
The best way to volunteer is to match your personality and interests with the type of volunteering options available. Having answers to these questions will help you narrow down your search.
More reading and resources:
Certificate in Youth Work
Volunteering and Its Surprising Benefits
Volunteering for UNICEF
Non-Profits for Students, Parents and Teachers