Volunteering: The Happiness Effect

I came across a great article on the health benefits of volunteering and I wanted to share it with you. The information provided below was taken from this article on HelpGuide.org.

Volunteering: The happiness effect

Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000, say the researchers. Giving time to religious organizations had the greatest impact.

Adapted from Simple Changes, Big Rewards: A Practical, Easy Guide for Healthy, Happy Living, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publication

The article also shares some of the health benefits of volunteering. Here are some reasons why volunteering is good for your mind and body:

  • Volunteering increases self-confidence. Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
  • Volunteering combats depression. Reducing the risk of depression is another important benefit of volunteering. A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times.
  • Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Volunteering is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.
Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy Photo by Rachel Feierman

Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy Photo by Rachel Feierman

The full article shares a lot more benefits so be sure to check it out and if you’d like more information, you can take a look at the results of this research done by the Corporation for National and Community Service on the health benefits of volunteering.

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