Volunteering: It’s Good for Your Health!
According to Alan Luks, Author of “The Healing Power of Doing Good” knows that volunteers benefit tremendously from the act of giving. The endorphins – our bodies natural pain killers – released from giving often causes:
- Reduction in stress and depression
- Decreased physical pain
- General “good feelings”
In a study of more than 3,000 volunteers from more than 20 charitable organizations across America, Luks charted 3,000 volunteers during and after charitable work. His findings reflected a direct link from volunteering to a sense of good health, increased calm and well-being. In brain scans it has also been shown that giving money stimulates the same areas of the brain as winning money! This in turn can result in an increase in overall and emotional health.
Volunteering Slows Aging
Continuing in Luk’ shoes, Linda P. Fried, M.D., director of the Center on Aging and Health at Johns Hopkins Medicine, compared two groups of elders (60-86 years old); one group volunteered while the control group did NOT volunteer regularly. Fried’s study found that those who had volunteered had maintained better physical, cognitive and social abilities. Determination? Volunteering can actually slow the aging process!
Volunteering Benefits Young Adults
Volunteering is particularly beneficial for young adults. In addition to the general good feelings research shows that it can:
- Teach how to respect differences
- Increase appreciation of families or others who care about them
- Develop a healthy sense of reliability, responsibility & trustworthiness as others come to rely on them.
- Gain on-the-job skills training
- Reduce risky behaviors in teen
- Increase academic success, especially in at-risk teens.
Volunteering Promotes Healing from Grief
Grief stricken loved ones can become moving forces in changing the status quo, rallying to change laws and behaviors to help others avoid the pain they experienced during their tragedy. Not only are there benefits to the act, but it can give a sense of perspective, of not being alone in ones grief, and even act as a reminder to “count ones blessings”. Volunteering is a healthy way to work through grief, while making a difference in the difficult lives of others. Donating time, or goods and advocating for continued improvement are all great options.
Volunteering is not just good for the one who gets, but for the one who gives too.