By Elizabeth Rachchh and Brandi Hackett
April is National Volunteer Month.
Volunteering is not only rewarding for those receiving help, but according to research, is also great for the volunteer, too. The act of giving back to your community can improve your quality of life in so many ways. Improved cognitive function, lower rates of depression, and social fulfillment are just a few of the benefits of donating your time. Keep reading for even more reasons why you should consider signing up to volunteer.
Here are 7 major benefits of volunteering your time:
1. It strengthens social connections and feelings as part of a larger community.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to strengthen your relationships and create new connections, making memories as you give back to your chosen community together.
2. It supports mental, physical, and cognitive health.
Research conducted by Mayo Clinic and Carnegie Mellon University shows that the health benefits of volunteering include reduced risk of hypertension and lowered rates of depression, anxiety, and stress.
3. It encourages new experiences and can add variety to one’s life.
Adding a new activity, such as volunteering, has been found to improve cognitive functioning by breaking up the monotony that can occur in a normal routine, according to research done by the Davis Phinney Foundation.
4. It heightens feelings of joy and fulfillment.
Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre conducted a survey in the UK wherein volunteers reported an 84% improvement in their happiness.
5. It can honor your personal journey and help provide purpose.
When volunteering in areas they find meaningful, volunteers often find a sense of purpose through their work. Volunteer opportunities also allow those who are retired to honor their professional experiences, gained skills, and knowledge in new and helpful ways.
6. It teaches valuable and transferrable skills.
If you’re looking to advance your abilities in an area, participating in a related volunteer opportunity can help provide you with the new experiences and hands-on opportunities to learn applicable skills or build on those you already have, whether it be for personal growth or professional development.
7. It can increase empathy and compassion.
Often while volunteering you come across the opportunity to get to know others on a deeper level, gaining an understanding of them and their lived experiences that can leave you, in turn, with a deeper understanding of yourself and of others. Hearing these stories can expand your perspective and your capacity of care for others in your life.
After the past few years, many have felt a desire to rekindle lost relationships and reconnect with their community. Volunteering can be a great way to do so in your free time, and with so many benefits. Why not make service in your community part of how you reconnect?
Interested in opportunities to volunteer with the LBDA? Find out how you can help.
Follow LBDA on Facebook to kick off Volunteer Appreciation Week with us on April 16th.