The benefits of volunteering for personal well-being
By Ruth Mendelson, MSW, LCSW
In the United States, April is National Volunteer Month. It is a time to recognize and celebrate volunteers and volunteerism. And while the focus of volunteering may be to help others, the benefits of volunteering on an individual’s well-being are valuable and worth highlighting!
Have you ever experienced great joy or satisfaction from giving rather than receiving? Ever donated an item you did not need? Did you notice any benefits to how you might have felt? What about volunteering your time, energy, skills, or belongings to serve others? What was that like for you?
While the intended purpose of volunteerism may be altruistic, there are so many important ways that volunteering can benefit your personal well-being.
What is “Well-Being” and why is it important?
Well-Being is wellness; it is quality of life, it is a level of satisfaction and fulfillment in various areas of life. There are different domains of well-being:
- Physical: fitness and level of activity
- Financial: personal economic health
- Social: meaningful connections to others
- Emotional: feelings are expressed safely
- Psychological: mental health needs are met
An individual’s concept and level of well-being can fluctuate depending on various circumstances and stressors. Feelings of well-being are important to the overall health of an individual and can help a person navigate challenges and achieve goals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not only is well-being important for an individual but it is a measure of a healthy society.
How does volunteerism benefit your well-being?
The benefits of volunteering can be unexpected and significant. Volunteer work can be linked to a decrease in mental health symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. It can also add value to your life!
- Volunteering can be a way to connect you to others. It can introduce you to new people and can be a way to develop relationships. During COVID-19 restrictions, this could be a great opportunity. By increasing interactions with others (safely) and creating a support network, one can potentially decrease feelings of depression and loneliness.
2. Volunteering can provide an individual with a sense of value and teach new skills. By contributing to a volunteer effort, you will likely be a teacher and a student. The lessons that a person may learn in a volunteer setting can give you a sense of interest or motivation to try something new. Maybe you gain a hobby or pastime. Maybe you discover a passion or possible career opportunity.
3. Volunteering can help you stay physically or mentally active, or both! Whether you are going somewhere or contributing remotely, the added activity of using your body and or your mind in ways outside of your normal routine can be an immense benefit to your well-being. Adding variety and changes to your standard activities is important for your muscles (brain included)!
4. Volunteering can be an opportunity to take on new challenges. Taking on challenges can enable you with gains in confidence. Improvements in confidence and self-esteem can provide you with a renewed sense of ability and strength.
How can you get involved and volunteer?
The purpose of this message is to recognize the contributions of volunteers and show gratitude for their efforts. This message is a reminder that it is possible to help yourself by helping others. The remarkable potential benefits to individual well-being are not to be underestimated! So, if you have the time, energy and interest, see what’s out there! So many possibilities await you!
As an added bonus (and only if it supports your well-being,) consider volunteering with family, friends, or even your colleagues. It can bond people or be a valuable work outing and team building activity.
If you are looking to strengthen your well-being or are struggling and concerned, please reach out. A licensed therapist or counselor can support you with your well-being goals.
Ruth enjoys spending time with her family, friends and dog. She loves to cook, spend time outdoors and go to the beach (even when it’s cold outside).
Check out Ruth’s professional bio here!
EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury, NJ, and accepts a variety of insurances.
Email Us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call Now: (908) 415-2042