Volunteering & Giving Back
There is a special feeling that comes from volunteering for a cause that we care about. Whether getting up early to help at an animal shelter or spending your day off reading to children at a hospital, tasks become a pleasure when we open our hearts. In stressful moments, it might seem difficult to find the time to share our energy in this way. However, research shows that by doing good things for someone else, you might actually be taking better care of yourself.
How does this work?
- The act of giving activates neurotransmitters in the brain that trigger positive feelings, decrease anxiety, and make people feel more energetic. Helping someone less fortunate can change your perspective on your own trials and tribulations, making you feel more capable of seeing solutions instead of roadblocks.
- Research shows that those who volunteer regularly have better physical health and live longer than those who do not. In fact, a 2009 study at Johns Hopkins, it was found that older adults who volunteered were actually able to increase brain functioning.
- Taking the time to think about other groups, animals, social and political causes, or environmental concerns fosters self-inquiry, another contributor to overall wellness. A rewarding part of the process can be actually deciding what matters most to you and finding ways to participate.
- Volunteering helps humans feel the deep sense of connection that we need for mental health. It helps us to feel that we are part of our community; necessary and valued. There is no doubt that the more you give, the more you get. Find a way to give today!
Watson, S. (2013). Volunteering may be good for body and mind - Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/volunteering-may-be-good-for-body-and-mind-201306266428 Carlson, M., Erickson, K., Kramer, A., Voss, M., Bolea, N., & Mielke, M. et al. (2009). Evidence for Neurocognitive Plasticity in At-Risk Older Adults: The Experience Corps Program. The Journals Of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences And Medical Sciences, 64A(12), 1275-1282.doi: 10.1093/gerona/glp117