Volunteering - A Prescription for Good Health

Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health.  It can help counteract the effects of stress,  and anxiety, increase self-confidence and provide a sense of purpose.

For school-aged children, volunteering builds social skills and develops awareness of community challenges and support systems.  Even through parent volunteer activities, children can see firsthand how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to enact change and provide support to other people and animals.  Some high school students volunteer to boost their post-secondary applications, and university/college students volunteer to improve their job search post-graduation.  Their volunteer hours and experience make them competitive in the job market.  Other generations, too, are finding that civic-mindedness has become an asset in the workplace.  Including volunteer work on a resume can help to showcase your skills, and reveal an openness to teamwork and innovation.  Employers do look favourably on job applicants who have volunteer experience.

One of the most significant trends in the volunteer world today is corporate philanthropy.  More companies are supporting local and national programs financially and they create employee volunteer programs to assist their philanthropic efforts.  Companies encourage employees to commit their time every year to these programs.  Often employees can volunteer during work hours which increases the likelihood that they will volunteer, even during their personal time.

Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more connected thus warding off loneliness and depression, reduce stress and maintain mental sharpness.  It is also becoming apparent that people who give their time to others may experience better physical health and a longer lifespan as well as possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.  Finally, a key to deriving health benefits from volunteering is to do it for the right reasons.  A 2012 study in the journal of Health Psychology found that participants who volunteered regularly lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic -- they were volunteering to help others and not for their own benefits.

I have personally found volunteering to be an extremely fulfilling activity.  If you've been thinking about volunteering but are unsure of where to start, I'd be happy to help you find an opportunity that matches your interests and skills in the Grey and Bruce region.