Experts show us why volunteering is good for our health and well-being.
Did you know that when you volunteer your time and talents, it can:
- Improve your mood
- Make you feel healthier
- Give you a sense of purpose
- Lower your stress levels
- Help you gain control over your health
- Help make your community a better place
And it doesn’t end there. If you are an employer, just look what volunteering can do for your employees. Many employees who volunteer:
- Increase their job skills
- Build and strengthen work relationships
- Improve people skills and their ability to work as a team
- Improve time management skills
If this Infographic, created by UnitedHealthcare, doesn’t persuade you that people who volunteer are healthier and happier in so many ways, maybe other key studies about volunteering can win you over.
This 2012 study in the journal Health Psychology found that participants who volunteered with some regularity lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic. In other words, they had to be volunteering as a way to help others—not just to make themselves feel better.
A study of adults age 65 and older found that the positive effect of volunteering on physical and mental health is due to the personal sense of accomplishment that an individual gains from his or her volunteer activities.
And this study by the Royal Voluntary Service found that volunteering in later life decreased depression and social isolation. It was also found to boost quality of life and life satisfaction. Dr. Rachel Casiday, a professor at the Department of Voluntary Sector Studies at the University of Wales and the doctor who led the study observed: “Even if you’re in a mentoring role, simply talking to someone else who is struggling with the same issue can support you as well. It’s not just an act of charity. In a lot of cases, the volunteer is helped as much as the patient.”
When investigating the benefits of volunteering, we found that volunteering helps you stay mentally active. A study released by Johns Hopkins University revealed that volunteers actually increased their brain function. This study found that volunteering not only improved cognitive abilities, it also was able to delay – or even reverse – declining brain function.
Do you ever wonder why volunteering can make you feel so darn happy? Research tells us that it’s the same feel-good effect you get after a great exercise session. When you exercise – and when you volunteer – your body releases dopamine into your brain, causing a feeling of wellbeing. You really can volunteer your way to a happier life.
For a model of the spirit of volunteerism, we need to look no farther than former President Jimmy Carter and his work for Habitat for Humanity and the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. Each year, President and Mrs. Carter donate a week of their time helping to build houses for those in need of a permanent place to live. The project helps bring attention to the good work that Habitat for Humanity does, year in and year out.
President Carter had this to say about his own volunteer experience: “Throughout my life, I’ve seen the difference that volunteering efforts can make in people’s lives. I know the personal value of service as a local volunteer.”
Are you looking for volunteer opportunities in your area? You can get help at GiveGab, a web-based platform that helps connects volunteers with non-profit organizations throughout the country
Here’s some great news from Cabot and our partners at Points of Light, National Cooperative Bank, and Create the Good. We’ve created Reward Volunteers, a free, easy way to track the time you spend volunteering in your community and to earn rewards for your contributions. Since its launch in 2012, more than 225,000 hours have been logged by 3,180 active, engaged volunteers, benefitting more than 2,983 organizations.
You can use this web-based platform to log your volunteer activity. And if you want to entice your friends to get involved, you can share your volunteer activity on Facebook. With Reward Volunteers, you and your organization can support volunteer efforts, inspire friends to get involved, and bring well-earned recognition to hard working volunteers throughout the US. It’s a winning solution for volunteers everywhere.
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Candace Karu reports on all there is to discover and love about food and farming as well as communicating Cabot’s mission to support community, volunteerism, and sustainability. Whether online, on air, or in person, her job is to amplify the passion and commitment of the 1200 farm families who own Cabot. When Candace is not representing Cabot, she lives, cooks, and works out in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.