The entire month of April is dedicated to honoring all of our communities’ volunteers and encouraging volunteerism throughout the month. Whether your current employer has a volunteer program or not, here are four reasons to consider lending a hand.
Experience the ‘Happiness Effect.’ The conclusion of the London School of Economics study of large groups of Americans is that the more people volunteer, the happier they are, according to a special report published by Harvard Health Publications. The level of volunteers’ happiness increases because people who volunteer feel a greater sense of purpose and enjoy being connected to other people while giving back to their communities. Researchers have even proven that being helpful to others delivers pleasure to the brain by measuring hormones and brain activity. Dale Carnegie said, “Remember happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think.” Most likely, the mere thought of doing good for others is starting to make you feel happy.
Reduce stress and anxiety levels. One of Dale Carnegie’s Human Relations principles, ‘Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health,’ underscores the importance of managing your stress levels. Connecting with other people is a surefire way to combat stress and feel happy, especially while volunteering. This is because the social contact aspect of working with others for a greater good has a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Truth be told, no matter how long your to-do list may be, once you actually volunteer, you won’t be as stressed out.
Gain a lot when you give back. By volunteering for just a few hours, expect to feel a natural sense of accomplishment and an increase in self-confidence and pride. Moreover, the better you feel about yourself, the higher the likelihood that you will have a positive outlook on your life and goals. When I volunteer, I know that I am making a critical contribution to the greater good. Whether helping to build Habitat for Humanity homes or serving food at a soup kitchen, my overall well-being increases immensely. Dale Carnegie said it best, “You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now.”
Live longer. Multiple studies included in The Health Benefits of Volunteering research review show a direct correlation between volunteering and better health—and lower mortality rates. In one study, people who volunteered for at least 100 hours per year were two-thirds as likely as non-volunteers to report bad health, and also one-third as likely to die. Also, an analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Aging found that individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when controlling for physical health.
If you feel compelled to volunteer and aren’t sure where to begin, start by finding the perfect opportunity on www.volunteermatch.org.