Improve your health: volunteer

The results are in: If you want to feel better and do something to benefit your body and soul, volunteer! Researchers have found that volunteering with an agency that helps others increases the endorphins released by the brain and other parts of the body which in turn can reduce stress, pain, and increase overall happiness. Their results have shown that those who reach out beyond themselves and invest their time and energy in the lives of others through volunteering are not only healthier, but are living longer. Additionally, they have shown there is a direct correlation between how we feel about ourselves, our inner happiness in general, and our physical health. Volunteers find more purpose in life, focus on how to improve situations, have better self-esteem, and are happier overall. That means all the fantastic opportunities that are available to help others through volunteering benefit not only the agency or person with whom one volunteers, they benefit the volunteer also!

Researchers at a university medical school in England analyzed data from 40 published studies and found evidence that volunteers had a 20 percent lower risk of early death than their peers who did not volunteer. In another survey of over 3,050 people completed by the United Health Group, overwhelmingly the participants reported feeling mentally and physically healthier after they had volunteered. Statistically, here’s some of what was found:

76% of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering made them feel healthier

94% said volunteering improved their mood

78% said volunteering lowered their stress levels

96% reported that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life

80% felt like they had more control over their health

25% reported that volunteer work helped them manage a chronic illness by keeping them active and taking their minds off their own problems

Volunteers received better personal scores than non-volunteers on nine measures of emotional wellbeing including personal independence, capacity for rich interpersonal relationships, and overall satisfaction with life.

To volunteer is to give to your community and the people in it, yourself included. Western North Carolina is rich with organizations that welcome volunteers. ABCCM, shelters, local hospitals, Hospice, Haywood Street Ministries, churches, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, food pantries, animal rescue facilities, Habitat for Humanity, and local libraries are just a few.

Volunteering – good for the community, your body, and your soul; a win for all involved. God also wins because we are to love others as we love ourselves. Volunteering shows other they’re worthy of love. Give it a try. You too might find it’s the best thing going.