Over 14 million people in the UK regularly do voluntary work – and for good reason. Giving your time to worthy causes not only helps others in need, but it can provide a huge boost to a volunteer’s own well-being.
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Whether you help out at a local community centre, in a charity shop or provide assistance to vulnerable people or animals, spending time supporting others is incredibly rewarding. Knowing that you’re making a difference can give you a great sense of worth and satisfaction. This, in turn, makes you feel good.
Loneliness and isolation can result in mental and physical health problems, but the social interaction gained from voluntary work can eradicate this. Volunteering is, in fact, a great way to form new friendships, which can only be a positive thing.
Many people who volunteer might struggle with their confidence and self-esteem, especially if they haven’t done paid work for a while. Because you’re giving up your own time to volunteer for free, there’s less pressure than in a ‘real’ workplace, helping to pave the way to build up feelings of self-worth and confidence. Indeed, doing voluntary work can be the first step to help you get back into the workplace.
Volunteering enables you to learn new skills that could be useful for a range of situations, including helping you to gain future employment. This can have a positive impact on your well-being, giving you the confidence to set and conquer new goals.
Sense of perspective
Many people get caught up in their own worries, but doing voluntary work to help people less fortunate than yourself can really put your own niggles into perspective. This can make a volunteer feel more grateful for the good things in their life.
When you’re focusing on what needs doing in a voluntary job, you push your own problems to one side. This can be highly therapeutic and make you feel more relaxed. Indeed, it’s hard to experience feelings of negativity when you’re engaging in acts of kindness towards others.
Studies have shown that people who volunteer have increased mental well-being, especially those between the ages of 40 and 70. Volunteering can also reduce stress and anxiety, and it gives a person a sense of purpose by helping others.
It’s not just your mental well-being that is said to benefit from giving your time to good causes. Many voluntary tasks involve being physically active, even if it’s just being on your feet for a while. This can help to keep you in good shape, as well as lowering blood pressure and boosting cardiovascular health. Being active also reduces stress hormones from the body, replacing them with feel-good chemicals. Research shows that people who provide support to others can enjoy a longer lifespan than those who don’t.
The positive thing about doing voluntary work is that no matter what your interests, skills or abilities there is something for everyone. The key to reaping the most well-being benefits is to do voluntary work that you enjoy and makes you feel happy. If it starts to become stressful or you feel overwhelmed, then try something else until you find an activity that’s more your cup of tea.