When was the last time you went out into the world and actually gave your time – more than an hour – to an organization or a group of people in need? Yes, we lead busy lives. Yes, our kids come first. But I propose that there is still enough time in the span of a month to carve out two, five, ten hours to give back to something you believe in or someone who needs real help.
I’m putting the challenge out there to JUST DO IT. Why, you ask? In addition to the goodness of supporting others and giving back, there are real benefits to you when you take the time to volunteer on a regular basis.
Improve your health
Studies have shown that both mental health and physical health are better in people who participate in regular volunteer activities than those who don’t. The social aspects of the connection derived from volunteering have shown to reduce both stress and depression. An analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Aging also found that individuals who volunteer even have lower mortality rates than those who do not: Live longer and reduce stress – all from volunteering!
Increase real life work skills
It stands to reason that an organization may put you to work doing something as a volunteer that you don’t do in your current day job. Many organizations will provide choices for volunteer duties, so you can actually choose something that improves your skill set or stretches you to do something new. Think resume building!
You can get a date
Research from the British Journal of Psychology suggests altruism may be a factor taken into account by both men and women when choosing a partner! If you’re single, get out there and volunteer because guys dig it and you just might meet someone new.
Make new friends
Building relationships is by far the best part of volunteering in my opinion. We are all seeking a tribe of similarly-minded people that believe in the same cause you do can yield a set of life-long friendships. Working together increases your sense of community and collective accomplishment as well. The friends you make while volunteering can provide a new and robust support system for you as you move through life.
I started volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association because my father is suffering with the disease. I originally intended to learn more about the disease and to work hard to make a difference. In addition to those to really important factors that I am accomplishing every day, I continue to be happily surprised at the dear friends I’ve made who continue to support me on this journey.
So how about it? Are you up to the challenge to go out and find an organization that means something to you, and give some of your time? If you’re looking for a place to volunteer, try conducting a search at VolunteerMatch to find the perfect fit for you. If you’re already volunteering, maybe give a few more hours or bring your friend to the next committee meeting to let them experience the joy of giving back with you!