The Surprising Benefits of Volunteering

If you recently asked someone how they’re doing, the immediate reply was probably, “Busy.” I’ve tried to be more intentional about changing my answer to this question after being challenged by an article on “minimalism.” Packing the calendar with “busy-ness” isn’t really something to brag about. Busy can be productive, but it can also be fruitless and exhausting. So, what if we carved out a little time for volunteering?

You’re probably thinking, “I barely have time for me, much less for time for my kids and/or spouse.” But what if you could see actual health benefits to volunteering? It’s true that giving our time is not to make us feel better, but what if better health was an unexpected side-effect. Wouldn’t that be a positive thing?

There is no shortage of needs in your community, and benefits can be significant for you as a volunteer. Before you dismiss the idea, remember that volunteering doesn’t have to be a long-term obligation. Even small commitments make a difference. Consider these benefits you may not have thought about.

  • Social connection in your neighborhood. Think about subdivision clean-up, organizing lawn work for the elderly, pet walking or food distribution at local centers. These are great ways to build and strengthen relationships through service-based work.
  • Good for body and mind. Could volunteering actually reduce stress, anxiety and anger? Working and helping others can have a profound effect on your overall well-being, and it provides great physical exercise without the gym membership fee! Those who suffer from depression can build a solid support system through regular contact with others. Individuals who suffer the loss of a loved one or have recently retired can find new direction in life by helping others. 
  • Career Skills. Getting experience in different fields is an excellent way to streamline your skills and interests. Volunteering puts you in more organic social positions to meet people in your field without the normal application/interview process. The experience and skills you learn while volunteering can be valuable, and the stress of “performing” or pleasing a boss is alleviated!
  • It’s fun! There is truly nothing more fulfilling than allowing your gifts to be put to work for a meaningful purpose. Volunteering gives a break from rigid deadlines, meetings and stresses of daily life allowing room for creativity and vision. You may even stumble upon a new hobby!
Leah Callahan

Leah Callahan

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