With headquarters located in Orlando, our team is known in the Central Florida community for our volunteer efforts. So when our virtual receptionist team is not answering your business’s telephone calls, we’re out volunteering and giving back to our community. Did you know that there are specific health benefits of volunteering?
We get that warm, fuzzy feeling when we volunteer; the health benefits are just an unexpected perk. That’s why we’re happy to share this special article to help you get in the spirit of giving and benefit in more ways than one.
The Many Health Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering Benefits for the Mind
If you have ever volunteered, you know all about the happy feelings that get after helping someone in need. Did you know there was a medical term for this feeling? Helper’s High defined is, “The sense of elation and increased energy that often follow helping other people.”
When it comes to the psychological benefits of volunteering, we want to point out three key chemicals spotlighted in a recent Huffington Post article, “Hacking Into Your Happy Chemicals.”
This happy chemical motivates us to achieve our goals and is released when we feel a sense of accomplishment. When you volunteer, you definitely experience the feelings of achievement and the pride following the execution of that specific goal. This feeling can come during or immediately after completing a volunteer act.
Help hack your brain’s levels of dopamine by committing to a volunteer project and seeing it through to the end. Your commitment can be as little as a few hours during the weekend, or full days at a time. The point is to make a goal and then achieve that goal to gain the benefits of a surge in dopamine released.
This happy chemical flows strong when we feel significant, important and useful. If you want to give your brain a serotonin boost, volunteering can definitely help you reach that feeling of usefulness. Scientists also report that loneliness and depression can rear their ugly heads when your serotonin levels are low or non-existent.
Feeling valued, significant and useful can easily be attained by working at a local soup kitchen. What significance does the hungry stranger you help place on the food you serve them? A lot! Go ahead and help others to increase your serotonin levels and experience the Helper’s High we’ve been talking about.
This particular happy chemical may be more familiar to you than the others listed. “Endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives.” There are many ways to release endorphins and volunteering can contribute as a stimulus to induce your brain’s creation of this chemical.
Psychology Today shares with us that, “the positive energy that you feel from doing a good deed can act on your body in much the same way that exercise does, releasing endorphins that make you feel good naturally.”
These 3 happy chemicals are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health benefits of volunteering as it applies to your mind. Prevention.com adds more food for thought in their succinct assertion, “Volunteering gives you the chance to use your brain and try new things, which creates new neurological pathways.”
We challenge you to commit to a volunteer project and test these theories out firsthand.
Volunteering Benefits for the Body
Remember how we discussed the release of the happy chemical known as endorphins? Endorphins are also released by exercising. When you volunteer, you may be up on your feet serving food; or assisting someone in need with chores or activities that keep you moving.
You can get a double shot of endorphins delivered to your brain by committing to a volunteer program. On one hand, you are exercising and getting your heart pumping and on the other, you are releasing endorphins from the positive energy you feel when giving back.
When you volunteer, you’re more likely to be able handle your own personal everyday stresses more effectively. Undoubtedly you will learn of the problems, stresses and setbacks that those in need are suffering with. Maybe the community members you’re helping are homeless and are forced to live on the streets. Perhaps they don’t have the money to put food on their family’s table and stress about how they’re going to make ends meet that month.
Seeing these overwhelming burdens that others are forced to endure will most likely change your perspective on your own personal stresses. So the next time you are stressed about something in your life, you may be able to manage that stress more effectively because volunteering teaches you the acts of humility and gratitude.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “…untreated chronic stress can result in serious health conditions including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.” Reduce your stress levels by offering a helping hand to those in need and feel the benefits of volunteering being reciprocated from your acts of kindness.
UnitedHealth Group’s released a national study that shares the following statistics:
- 76% of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering has made them feel healthier.
- 78% of them said that volunteering lowered their stress levels.
- 80% of them feel like they have control over their health.
Volunteering Benefits for the Soul
Volunteering is good for the soul like chicken soup is good for a cold. Giving back allows you to be a part of someone’s life and gives you a sense of a greater purpose. When you volunteer, you can feel the positive impact that you have just caused for another human being.
Some volunteers experience the presence of a previously unknown calling that was brought out by giving to others. The feelings you get from directly affecting change in your community or with a stranger are really, indescribable. It’s something that everyone must experience first-hand to truly understand how your heart warms and the popular realization that you’re receiving more than you’re giving.
Whether you choose to volunteer to help adults, children, animals or community organizations, you will be surrounded by other likeminded people. Developing relationships and friendships are social benefits you receive by helping others. You get to come together with those around you and experience life changing events together.
Are You Ready to Start Volunteering and Reaping in the Health Benefits?
We hope that this article has showcased some of the health benefits of volunteering and has given you the incentive to start giving back to your community.
If you are in the Orlando area and want to start volunteering, please click here to read our article that features some of our favorite charitable organizations in the Central Florida area.