The Benefits of Volunteering

If there are two things that have been confirmed to me as a therapist, it is that we like plan and purpose. We feel better when moving forward (no matter the pace), and when the essence of our being aligns with purpose. We feel comforted by meaning – in our work, play, family life, community. One of the ways to achieve this is through volunteering with an organization or cause that is dear to us. Being service oriented allows us to focus on other; to make a difference:

  • Volunteering decreases the likelihood of developing depression. When we volunteer, it most likely includes social interaction which helps to fend off loneliness and depression. It also helps to keep us engaged – an important element to keeping the blues away.
  • Volunteering improves our physical health. An article from Harvard Medical school notes that “A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.”
  • Volunteering builds empathy. When we are service oriented, our focus is the other – we are more likely to experience what it feels like to be in another life position. We will begin to understand and relate to people in a more empathic way.
  • Volunteering can help your career. Never underestimate how volunteering can add to your overall work life – my first job right out of university was with an organization I had volunteered with the previous summer.
  • Volunteering allows joy into our lives. In our busy lives, we often forget to actively seek joy. If we volunteer on a regular basis, we are allowing moments of happiness and fulfillment into our life experience.

We are always comforted by plan and purpose. As Mahatma Gandhi once said The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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