Take a moment to remember a time when you helped someone. Perhaps you helped a stranger load groceries in their car, or you volunteered to clean up a local beach. Giving back in these ways can leave you feeling like you’re walking on air. In fact, every time you volunteer, your overall health benefits. Here are just 5 of the many health benefits of volunteering.
Health Benefits of Volunteering
1. Volunteering Decreases Stress
Volunteering is one way to reduce stress. “By savoring time spent in service to others, you will feel a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect,” shares the Mayo Clinic. This cause and effect is thanks to Oxytocin, a hormone that underlies individual and social trust. Oxytocin, is considered stress-buffering. Studies have shown when this hormone spikes, it helps people to manage stressful events better.
Another way volunteering can help reduce stress is the chance to spend time in nature. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities right here in Maui County that take place outdoors. You could spruce up the campus at the Hawai`i Nature Center Volunteer Work Day or grow and tend your own garden with The Maui Farm. Just 20 minutes of contact with nature will lower stress hormone levels. (source)
2. Volunteering Opens Up Your Social Circle
Every time you volunteer, it’s an opportunity to get to know other people. Whether you’re a docent at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary or volunteer for a workday at Kalakupua/Giggle Hill playground. We all love spending time with friends and the energizing feeling of working towards a common goal is undeniable. Being around others like you is a chance for your brain to release Oxytocin. You’ll feel more connected and more emotionally healthy. (source)
3. Volunteering Decreases the Risk of Depression
In a recent article, Healthline estimated “that 16.2 million adults in the United States, or 6.7 percent of American adults have had at least one major depressive episode in a given year.” The good news is that there are preventative measures that can be taken. (source)
One of the signs of depression is the tendency to withdraw from social activities. Having a regular volunteering routine will help you stay engaged in activities with others and not isolate oneself. This is why volunteering can make such a major impact on emotional health. It’s a great way to meet new people who share common interests with you. “A survey for charity Community Service Volunteers found that half of those who had volunteered for more than two years (48%) said it made them feel less depressed.” (source)
4. Volunteering Contributes to Lower Blood Pressure
An active lifestyle contributes to healthy blood pressure. A recent study published in Psychology and Aging showed adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. (source) You could volunteer with the Coral Reef Alliance to prevent pollutants from reaching the ocean or choose from a wide range of other opportunities listed here. So, if you need a fun activity to contribute to your active lifestyle consider volunteering.
5. Volunteering Can Lengthen Your Life Span
Yes, you heard right! Volunteering can even lengthen your lifespan! We all want more time. It seems that this is the essence of life, time. Studies show we actually get more time when we give. The Mayo Health Clinic says, “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 age, gender, and physical health.” (source)
We’ve just covered 5 major health benefits of volunteering. Volunteering can give you a better quality of life, better overall health, and a longer lifespan. So what are you waiting for? Browse volunteer opportunities today.