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Whether volunteering with colleagues or on your own, donating time at a soup kitchen or teaching English language classes, volunteering is an opportunity to give back to your community.
Research shows volunteering is also an investment in your mental health and well-being.
Here are a few of the mental health benefits that result from volunteering:
- Provides a sense of purpose.
Volunteering connects you with a cause bigger than yourself. And many individuals feel that where they volunteer says something about who they are. Volunteering can offer a sense of direction in what can feel like an unstable world.
- Increases feelings of happiness.
It is common to leave a volunteer assignment feeling better than when you arrived. The Journal of Happiness Studies published a study showing a correlation between volunteerism and increased happiness. During activities such as contributing to a meaningful cause, your body produces dopamine, which boosts well-being. Volunteering is also linked to lower rates of depression, anxiety, and stress.
- Expands your social network.
Loneliness has been described as an epidemic in the U.S. and making friends as an adult can be difficult. Volunteering is a remedy to this problem because it brings new people with a shared interest into your social circle.
There are many organizations seeking volunteers. If you need help figuring out where to start, groups like VolunteerMatch, the United Way, and Volunteer.gov can help you match your interests and talents to organizations that need help. Getting involved will boost your well-being and make a big difference in the community.