It’s the holiday season. For some, the holidays are undeniably the best time of the year. For others, they are a time of great stress.
We have found that one of the best ways to put a cap on that stress, while opening ourselves up to the endorphins which can engender a sometimes life-changing sense of well-being, is to give back.
With that in mind, here are 3 ways that volunteering is good for you.
1. It can increase your happiness
As Frankenstein’s monster once famously said: “Isolation, bad. Volunteering, good.”
As if life weren’t challenging enough, COVID came along and put even more distance between us.
Time to (safely) put an end to that (within reason).
From 1996 until 2016, 70,000 Brits agreed to participate in a study on volunteering and mental health.
Want to take a guess at what they found?
The more a person volunteered, the happier they became.2
Even those folks who volunteered as little as once or twice each year reported greater life satisfaction levels than those people who never volunteered.
2. You’ll make more friends and connections and expand your horizons
I know people who’ve developed an entirely new network of friends through volunteering. And the impact and breadth of this network has done more than help others; it’s resulted in an increase in social activity, new full or part-time jobs, more exercise, more travel, and a healthier outlook on life.
If you’re retired, or if you’re set to retire in the next five years, the transition to your post-work life is not always an easy one.
But I can almost guarantee that if you find a cause and start to devote some time to it, you’ll not only more easily make the transition into retirement, but you’ll aid others in the process.
3. Volunteering helps stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s
Studies have found that one of the best ways to delay, or even entirely stave off, diseases of the brain is by engaging in new, stimulating activities. And this appears to be especially true when it comes to volunteering.3
According to research completed at Johns Hopkins University, older adults who tutored children, or took part in some other form of volunteer service, were able to delay or even reverse declining brain function.3
Using MRIs, researchers discovered that folks over 50 years of age who volunteered (for this study, they utilized volunteers who tutored) showed a significant increase in the function of the areas of their brains that controlled planning, thought, and organization.3
Volunteering is the one thing that almost any of us can do that could simultaneously help our minds stay sharp, expand our social circles, make us feel better, and improve both the presentandthe future of a person in need.
Here’s to all of us working to make 2022 the year of giving back.