While it may be obvious that volunteering benefits the community, did you know this kind gesture can actually have a large impact on your health? It’s true! From decreasing depression, to living longer, there are many reasons why volunteering is beneficial to both the community as well as to your own health and well-being. Here’s how:
- Decrease risk of depression
In a study conducted by Chicago University, “Loneliness may precede depression even more frequently than depression precedes depression” (psychologytoday.com). A terrific way to combat loneliness is to increase social interaction, which furthermore creates a support system.
On that note, the Y recently developed the Togetherhood® Program, a group of volunteers that come together to plan activities that will help support and assist local community needs. If you would like to learn more about the Togetherhood® group, visit ymcaspbc.org/volunteer.
- Live a longer life
If you’d like to lead a happier and healthier life, keep reading! Not only does volunteering boost your mood, but it can also help increase your life span. Studies have shown that volunteers encounter less frequency of heart disease and are at a lower risk of memory loss. The social interaction that comes from volunteering can even reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia syndromes.
- Positive mindset
TIME magazine recently conducted a study where two groups of people were given $100. Group A spent it on themselves, Group B gave it to others. After the study, it was found that those who gave reported higher levels of happiness. When you assist others in need, the pleasure you experience is caused by your brain releases a chemical called dopamine, a feel-good chemical that has a positive effect on how your body and mind.
- Increase physical activity
Many volunteer jobs require you to get up and move. And on average, people spend the majority of their lives sitting at a desk and then sitting in their car to come home to their beloved TV or electronic gadgets. Volunteering encourages individuals to stay more physically active by moving around and standing on their feet. Helpguide.org states, “Older volunteers who tend to walk more find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure and have better-thinking skills,”
As you can see, volunteering is a win-win.
The Y is a charity, and with that, comes volunteering opportunities all year long to keep the organization running. Annually, Y volunteers donate 37,000 hours of time participating in beach cleanups, food & clothing drives, event assistance, mentorship and more. The impact of volunteerism can be felt throughout communities small and large. Whether the tasks are simple or grand, the impact is always appreciated.