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We all know lending a helping hand can make us feel pretty good inside – but did you know volunteering offers you a wealth of mental and physical advantages?

Celebrate National Volunteering week by discovering the benefits of becoming a volunteer.

#1: Volunteering will improve your mental health

In joining together with a team for a good cause, volunteering’s social contact can provide a huge boost to your mental wellbeing. Counteracting the effects of stress, having a meaningful connection with another person or working with animals has proven to improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. The action of regularly engaging with others and having a strong support team also acts as a powerful anti-depressant.

Boosting your self-confidence, getting actively involved in your community can also give you a newfound sense of pride and identity – and the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to invest in positive self-care.

#2: Gain skills to advance your career

Whether you’re embarking on a profession or taking a change of direction into something new, volunteering provides an ideal means to explore and advance your career. Despite being unpaid, many volunteering opportunities provide extensive training, enabling you to gain valuable skills in a collaborative and encouraging environment.

Volunteering also allows you to experience a new career without a long-term commitment. It is also a great way to increase your network of like-minded individuals, who you can connect and collaborate with on future projects and developments.

#3: You will enjoy the ‘helper’s high’

Helping others triggers and activates the ‘feel good’ hormones in the brain, releasing neurotransmitters of oxytocin and vasopressin. Just like a runner’s high, these hormones can give you an enjoyable buzz, dubbed by many as the ‘helper’s high’.

Dr. Michael Bowen, an expert on the effects of brain chemicals stands to verify the helper’s high, stating that “empathy has been shown to elevate oxytocin levels in blood plasma, with higher levels of empathy and oxytocin being associated with increased generosity.”

Furthermore, feel-good emotions happen to be contagious. If one party is feeling positive and enjoying the process of giving, something called ‘emotional contagion’ happens. This feel-good feeling spreads, with people nearby becoming significantly more likely to give as well.

#4: Increase your physical health

Whether you’ve chosen to lifeguard, join an animal shelter or get involved in the community helping out with fundraising events, volunteering gets you hands-on with a variety of activities. Getting active by helping out can work wonders for your physical health – older volunteers have proven to walk more, and are less likely to develop high blood pressure.

#5: Feel more time-rich

Just like the wealthy who feel that donating to charity makes them feel ‘richer’, those feeling short on time can also reap the rewards of volunteering.

Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner wrote in the Harvard Business Review that her studies on volunteering showed “giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’ and less time-constrained than wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time.”


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