How volunteering can boost your mental health
Updated: Mar 21
It might sound cliche, but Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” As we reflect on ourselves, we may realize that some of the best feelings of self-worth were the product of lending a helping hand. Many of us will rush to social media to tell the world that we’re “paying it forward,” but never consider the impact that volunteer work has on our mental health.
In fact, a 2017 study by BMC Public Health concluded that “volunteering should be promoted by public health, education and policy practitioners as a kind of healthy lifestyle, especially for the social subgroups of elders, ethnic minorities, those with little education, single people, and unemployed people, who generally have poorer health and less participation in volunteering.”
Furthermore, the study went on to prove that volunteer work significantly improved mental health, physical health, life satisfaction, social well-being, and decreased depressive symptoms. So why does volunteering make you feel so good?
In today’s world, the pandemic has isolated many individuals, which comes with no surprise that it leads to anxiety and depression. Through volunteering, you have the opportunity to connect with others, socialize, and maybe even make some new friends. This is great for those individuals that really want to work on their social skills!
Not only are you connecting with others, but volunteering is a lot of fun, even though you’re not getting paid for it. If you’re having fun and smiling, just that can give your mental health the boost it needs. It may even help you find a new hobby or passion, such as rescuing shelter dogs.
If nothing else, volunteer work is a great addition to any professional resume, which can help you advance your career. And for those that are money motivated, volunteer work could be a stepping stone towards your dream job. We should remind you, though, that money doesn’t have much influence on happiness!
If you need a pick-me-up, consider donating your free time to an organization or charity that you are passionate about. Your mental health will thank you!