This series is an alphabetical exploration of 26 options for living well, despite everything. It answers the question–How can we live well, despite problems?
Volunteer: it’s good for you! (Say the researchers and writers at Harvard Health Watch)
Volunteering has mental health benefits:
- Volunteers feel more socially connected than non-volunteers;
- This helps to ward off loneliness and depression.
A growing body of evidence also indicates that volunteering has physical health benefits:
- Adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers.
Here’s the caveat:
- As reported by Harvard Health, A 2012 study in the journal Health Psychology found that participants who volunteered with some regularity lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic. In other words, they had to be volunteering to help others—not to make themselves feel better.
- HA! I love it!
My volunteering time these days (3-5 hours/month) is spent teaching and writing group poetry at a day program center for disabled adults. It brings together my passion for poetry and my advocacy for people with disabilities, and I’m enjoying it immensely, as are they. It definitely works to ward off loneliness and depression, especially when I walk into the room and someone, so happy to see me, breaks into spontaneous cheers with applause!
When is the last time people cheered and clapped because you entered a room?
How have you used your talents and interests to help others? What rewards do you gain from volunteering?