You may think the only benefits from volunteering is for the charity that you donate your skills or time for. This is simply not so!
There’s been a rage of studies that show volunteering is good for your health as well. This article over on the Sydney University website explains some of these benefits.
Health benefits of volunteering
Volunteering combats depression. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which can, in turn, reduce the chances of depression.
Volunteering improves your own confidence
Becoming a volunteer for a local charity gives people a sense of pride and identity. The better one feels about themselves, the more likely they have positive views of life and relationships.
There’s also the fact you are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment.
Volunteering reduces stress and anxiety
Social contact aspect of volunteering and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being.
Nothing better to reduce stress than having great conversations in a positive frame with other people. Also, scientists have found that people working with animals have also been shown to reduce mental health issues, and generally improve moods.
Volunteering increases your happiness
By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel.
Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Studies have found that Australians who are regular volunteers have a longer life expectancy than those who do not.
More mature Australians who volunteer, end up walking more which makes it easier for them to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure. This also helps Australian volunteers improve their brain and thinking skills.
Volunteering has been proven to lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Volunteering provides a sense of purpose
Mature Australians, especially those who are single or retired, can often find a whole new meaning in life by volunteering for a local organisation. There’s nothing better to improve your own life, by helping others.
Whatever your marital status, age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own concerns and therefore also keep you mentally positive and stimulated.
Some famous people in volunteering
Many famous people throughout history have volunteered. Here are a few of them.
George Washington, the first President of the United States, was a volunteer firefighter and imported the first fire engine from England in 1765.
Actor Sean Penn volunteered in Haiti following the earthquake in 2010. He helped dispense medicine, swept floors and managed a large displaced-persons facility. Having survived personal traumatic events in his life, he wanted to put something back.
Agatha Christie volunteered for the Red Cross during World War One, putting in 3,400 hours of unpaid work between 1914-16. She described the role as one of the most rewarding professions. Her experiences also provided material for her novels.
Rock star Jon Bon Jovi volunteered in food kitchens, eventually setting up his own charity restaurant with his wife in New Jersey, The Soul Kitchen, where he works around once a week when he’s in town.
Where to find volunteering opportunities
There are plenty of charities and associations across Australia, in every state and territory that are always looking for volunteers. Try using Google and searching your local area.
Otherwise, these websites may help;