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Health benefits of volunteering

If you’re looking to give something back to your local community, as well as giving something back to yourself, then volunteering may be for you.

There are proven, numerous health benefits, both mental and physical, for volunteers. We’ve listed just a few of these below:

1. Becoming more active

Many people find that once they begin volunteering, they become far more active than they were before. This may be due to having to travel to their local community to meet those that need help, or simply the nature of their chosen volunteering path – this could be helping to paint and decorate people’s houses or go litter-picking. Although it may not be strenuous exercise, volunteers often find themselves walking more and doing additional activities on top of their normal working day.

2. Becoming healthier

This goes hand in hand with the above point. Often when people volunteer, they encourage others to lead a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. It’s hard then to not have these good habits rub-off and make notable changes in your own life. Whether this is giving up smoking, eating less junk food, or making healthier food choices, volunteering fits in with part of a healthier lifestyle.

3. Mental health benefits

Volunteering allows you to mix with people you perhaps wouldn’t normally interact with, leading to different conversations and different social interactions. Meeting new people gives you the opportunity to find common interests and activities, creating new friendships and general improving your mental health.

Knowing you are helping others can be a fantastic self-esteem boost and increase your confidence. If you’ve been out of work for a while, volunteering gives you the opportunity to still continue to be active within your community. This motivates you to carry on looking for work, whilst still doing something important and worthy.

Getting that “feel-good” feeling from volunteering is also an incredible boost for your mental well being. Although volunteering is mostly a selfless act, the enjoyment that comes from it is extremely fulfilling.

Volunteering later on in life can also give you a sense of purpose as well as decreasing the risk of depression and isolation.

4. Making a difference

Not only does volunteering aid your own health, you will also be assisting those in real need too. Whether you choose to help animals, children, or adults, your skills and volunteering hours will add huge benefit to their lives. A direct result of this will mean improved mental well being for them too, hopefully passing along that “feel good” feeling.

5. Helping you and your family

Volunteering may even have an effect on you and your family. Often people find that when they start volunteering, they are able to deal with illness and health problems more easily than before, as they have a fresh perspective on life.

If you’re looking to make some improvements in your own life and wish to help others, why not take a look at our volunteering opportunities? Check out our most recent volunteering newsletter too to see what we get up to.

Volunteer quotes from Jackie Leeming, August 2016

Sources: NHS | Create the Good


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