Helping Others Can Also Help Yourself
Personal benefits shouldn't be the main reason for volunteering but it is a nice bonus. Over 75% of volunteers have reported that volunteering helps them deal with difficult situations better and understand people better. The people who reported this usually reported that they spent over 180 hours volunteering per year. It seems that the increased self confidence comes from spending more than one or two weekends a year helping others. Many studies, however, find that there are health benefits of volunteering.
Health Benefits of Volunteering Revealed
The health benefits of volunteering seems connected to an increase in self-confidence and this may be the key to increased health in volunteers. A person who is internally happy and satisfied tends to have less health problems. The self-confidence comes from the interpersonal skills that a person gains when they volunteer.
Another health benefit seen in volunteers is a reduction in blood pressure. This benefit has primarily been reported by people who volunteer to read to others. Reading is relaxing for many people but often we don't take the time to sit down and relax with a good book. Spending a couple of afternoons a month reading to sick children or the elderly gives you a relaxing break that you wouldn't normally take. Taking regular relaxing breaks can also reduce stress on your body which improves overall body functions.
Volunteering can help a retired person maintain mobility and it helps to keep the organs working properly. Once a person retires they frequently stop major activities and starting spending a lot of time sitting around playing cards with their friends or watching TV. The body starts to have problems when someone who was quite active suddenly becomes less active. The problems can make a person feel older, get sick more often, and start feeling more depressed. Volunteering allows the body to slow down but keeps the body from stopping all together. It helps retired people retain their good health longer by keeping them moving and giving them something to do.
There are even health benefits of volunteering for teenagers and there are many volunteering opportunities for them. For example, many hospitals have volunteer positions such as a candy stripper or as a reader. Teens who participate in a regular monthly volunteering opportunity develop better social skills and build stronger mental health. These are areas that teens typically struggle with and they can lead to different problems such as eating disorders. Teenagers often have a hard time figuring out their place in the world and volunteering helps them.
There are also health benefits for families that regularly volunteer together. Besides the individual benefits for each person, the family develops a tighter bond. It helps the family deal with the rough patches better which reduces stress on all the family members. The saying should be 'the family that volunteers together, stays together' because the family learns how to cope with different situations by volunteering.
The health benefits of volunteering seem to stem from emotional and mental health. There are people who pay thousands of dollars to spiritual healers to get the same health benefits that active volunteers get. The health benefits of volunteering are numerous because most of them stem from emotional happiness and internal well being.