REAL Services is celebrating Michiana volunteers at the Age of Excellence Awards luncheon in April, featuring Coach Lou Holtz as keynote speaker. Reserve your seat now!
Volunteering is a great way to intentionally make a positive difference in the lives of other people. While most people start volunteering to help other people, many volunteers end up noticing that their own lives improve too.
Here are 6 benefits of volunteering you may not know about.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Volunteering is a great way to learn something new. Through your experiences, you might widen your perspective on something and end up with a different opinion than you had previously. If you spend time with seniors while volunteering, you might learn what a historical event was really like through the eyes of someone who experienced it firsthand.
You might also learn new skills through the activities that you’re doing. Perhaps you didn’t know how to paint a wall or manage an event before, but volunteering could give you hands-on experience. The longer that a person volunteers, the more likely they are to learn several new skills. Learning new things can help improve long-term memory and brain health as well.
FEEL LESS LONELY
If a person is struggling with loneliness, a great recommendation is to get out of the house and volunteer. Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet new people and form strong bonds with them. You might find a lifelong friend in someone who you’re helping through your volunteer work, or your fellow volunteers might become your new second family. Either way, volunteers are very likely to develop strong relationships with people with whom they share a common passion.
IMPROVE YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH
Not only will volunteering help a person find friends, but it could also help with physical wellness as well.
Some volunteer activities might involve physical labor, such as painting or running around chasing animals or children. The physical activity could help you become stronger and have more stamina for extended activities.
Studies have shown that even non-physical volunteering could help people lose weight and even lower their bad cholesterol levels. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that volunteers spent 38 percent fewer nights in the hospital compared to non-volunteers.
GET A CAREER BOOST
Chances are that you’ll want to apply for a new job at some point in your life, and having volunteer experience can help. Employers like to see volunteer experience because it shows that you’re a well-rounded and passionate person.
Plus, remember those new skills you learned while volunteering? Those could potentially lead to a new job too. Those new skills might open up career pathways that you never considered before. Those skills—and the real-world experience using those skills—could also give job seekers an advantage while applying for jobs.
DECREASE THE RISK OF DEPRESSION
Everyone needs help or wants help with something. Being the person who makes a difference in someone else’s life is a really quick way to build confidence feel good about yourself. Studies have found that volunteering reduces the risk of depression and increases how optimistic people feel. It’s not linked to any specific kind of volunteering either, so any activity where you’re giving back could help.
Volunteering doesn’t just add value to a person’s life—it can also extend it. Studies have found that volunteers have a lower mortality rate than people who don’t volunteer. There does seem to be a sticking point though: the volunteers who experienced lower mortality rates tended to report that they volunteered because they wanted to help other people and not to help themselves. So living longer shouldn’t be the reason you volunteer, but it sure is a great benefit.