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How Volunteering Improves Your Health and Life

 
Photo Credit Everydayhealth.com

Would you believe that volunteerism has a value of over $184 billion dollars? Besides its monetary value, statistics show that “volunteering improves health by strengthening the body, improving mood, and lessening stress”. Volunteerhub.com shares these statistics about volunteerism.

In a study by Carnegie Mellon University, they published that those who are over 50 volunteering on regular basis would less likely develop high blood pressure than those who don’t. Understanding the risk of high blood pressure for our seniors and its effects would help us to encourage everyone to volunteer. For those enjoying their retirement, volunteerism is one good habit to keep your lifestyle active.

Here are great long term effects of volunteering.

Increases Self Esteem

The first outright benefit in volunteering is boosting your self-esteem. It creates a sense of pride for the good deed you have done. You realize that you doing something good and you start to think you can do more. It fights away thoughts of helplessness and unworthiness.

Builds Good Network

When you volunteer, you always work with somebody else. By meeting people and working with them, you feel you are socially connected. It creates a new network of friends, colleagues, and people you can talk with. This wards off the feeling of loneliness. At the end of each day you volunteer, you reminisce the experience, the conversations and the people you’ve worked with.

Gives the Happiness Effect

Feeling joy and happiness always comes after volunteering. London School of Economics proved this right when their researches found people are happier after. Remember that feeling good releases endorphins and other brain chemicals that fight stress, and boosts your immune system, too.

Contributes to a longer life

As stated above, when your body feels good it helps and improves your quality of life. A normal blood pressure lessens your risks for heart-related diseases and even premature death.

When we feel joy, our bodies release dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters. When they are released, our bodies have multiple reactions. It elevates your mood, lowers your heart rate and reduces stress.

Creates purpose

Volunteering helps you find purpose at a time you may feel lonely or isolated. It helps you be responsible for others which in time builds the sense of purpose.

How I was helped by helping others‘ was Dr. Susan Nooman’s tagline when she wrote her article about volunteering when depressed. One of the things she emphasizes is that volunteering gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment which you may have forgotten. It also requires you to dress up nice to be presentable which boosts your feeling of goodness and helps with your depression.

Sets a good example

Senior citizen reads to children.
Photo Credit pointsoflight.org

Many volunteers say that they volunteered because someone they know did. Sharing our happiness is contagious. When we feel happy we want our friends and family to feel that happiness, too. Volunteering not only sets a good example for good deeds but also in building a network of good people. By volunteering, we encourage others to care about people and to share their time and resources.

Teaches New Skills

One great thing about volunteering is that it requires no formal conditions. Your education and work background need not be important. Your desire to help and passion for others will open the opportunities to learn new skills as you work with any organization.

Many develop or realize that they have certain communication skills soon as they start working with groups. To some, they are forced to be leaders and become better at it. To others, learning to be able to communicate improves while they volunteer.

Volunteering to senior homes for the millennials creates an intergenerational bond that benefits both. For the adults, it creates a meaningful experience that is separate from their experiences in the family and at work. To the seniors, their way of life changes because of the involvement of other people. To each, volunteerism creates and builds different benefits that improve one’s life.

Senior and interested in volunteering?

So, if you are 55 years old and above and wants to volunteer. Here are some suggested volunteer opportunities. There are hundreds of them out there so here are just a few recommendations.

1. Senior Corps 

If you love kids and would like to spend time with them tutoring or doing one-to-one activities, Senior Corps would work best for you. And some of these children have exceptional needs. There are other activities too like mentoring troubled teens, young mothers and caring for infants. But helping co-seniors and adults are part of Senior Corps, too! They have different activities matching the needs of everyone in the community.

2. Red Cross 

Red Cross always have open opportunities for all sorts of volunteers. So try to find your local Red Cross and see which programs you could regularly volunteer with them. Though Red Cross is known for responding to a disaster and medical care, there are other activities they conduct, too. Training and teaching first aid to youth are just some. So look them up and call them in your area.

3. Animal Shelters

If you love animals, that doesn’t go away when you get old. Find a local shelter like the Toronto Humane Society where you could find some things to do. Some of the tasks could be dog walking, kitten feeding, administrative support, promotions and fundraising and many more. Tag along your four-legged pal if you got one. They’d love to have more company.

4. Your Local Library

If you love books, then this is the best spot to do things. Don’t worry about the carrying of books, there are other volunteers who could do that. Sorting and categorizing are some of the few things that may be needed daily to do in a library. Should you want to be around the books you love, contact the nearest library.

There so many volunteering opportunities if we simply look for them. Non-profit and non-government organizations are very much active these days. Retirees with certain skills are amazingly being sought in different roles. Some roles could be simple too and need not any expertise. Whether you’d like to volunteer local or international, these groups and organizations could find a match for you.

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