Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The benefits of volunteering on your mental wellbeing

Whether you’re a busy professional with a hectic lifestyle or retired with plenty of time on your hands, there are lots of opportunities for volunteer work that you can fit into your schedule.

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to volunteer, you’ll find that volunteering your time can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.

Social contact

Working alongside other like-minded volunteers is a great way to make new connections and improve your social skills. Having this kind of support network around us can give us a sense of belonging, thus creating more positive thoughts about ourselves.

Combats stress and anxiety

As well as enjoying social contact, helping others can be a huge mood booster. Volunteer work helps you forget many of your own personal worries and, instead, encourages you to focus your attention on someone else’s needs. You’ll find lots of outdoor volunteer work too, which can release endorphins and provide you with some much-needed vitamin D.

Helps fight depression

When we’re suffering from depression, we tend to feel worthless and self-critical as well as lethargic. By surrounding ourselves with other volunteers, we increase our social network, and this can prevent feelings of loneliness. Helping others gives us a purpose in life and it can increase our self-esteem and self-worth.

Giving makes us happy

When we put others’ needs before our own without expecting anything in return, it gives us a great sense of achievement and makes us feel good about ourselves. For many people, the act of giving is far more rewarding and brings us more happiness than receiving.

Physical wellbeing

Studies have shown that taking care of our physical wellbeing can have a knock-on effect on our mental wellbeing. A lot of volunteer work involves activities that keep us exercising without us possibly realising it. As well as lowering blood pressure, exercise is one of the best ways to keep us mentally in shape and it’s great for boosting mood too.

Working with animals

Studies have shown that animals can play a part in improving mental wellbeing. The mere act of stroking or playing with an animal can help us to feel relaxed and calm. If you’re an animal lover but are unable to keep a pet at home, then voluntary work with animals could be the perfect choice for you.

If you would like to find local volunteer work, the Do-it Trust has lots of information and advice as to where to find suitable opportunities, from first aid and fundraising to support work.

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