Ben, a college freshman who did volunteer fund-raising work, calls it a “win-win situation.” He says, “You feel good because you’re helping others, and the others feel good because they’re getting help.”
The more “win-wins” we have, the better our world is, for sure.
Volunteering also benefits us as individuals in many amazing ways:
1. Increases social and relationship skills
By connecting with others you have the opportunity to practice your social skills as well as make new friends, and even strengthen existing relationships. It’s a bonding experience to work alongside other people for a common goal.
2. Increases self-confidence
Doing good for other people and your community provides a feeling of accomplishment, giving you a sense of pride in yourself. This naturally evolves into a more positive view of life.
3. Combats depression
The old adage “do unto others” is certainly true in the case of volunteering. You can’t feel depressed if you are out giving a helping hand to someone else.
For one thing, a serious aspect of depression – that of social isolation – cannot exist if you are involved with volunteering. Just the act of volunteering keeps you in contact with others, who may, in turn, become your support system if you need that one day yourself.
And, depression cannot exist in the presence of that feel-good glow you inevitably have when helping another.
4. Kindles a feeling of happiness
Numerous studies have been done on the “happiness effect” of volunteering. You know from experience how good you feel when you volunteer, and now scientific studies have confirmed that with statistical results.
For example, a study that examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults that was published in Social Science and Medicine found that the more people volunteered, the happier they were.
Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000, say the researchers.
5. Helps you stay physically healthy
What a wonderful side-effect of volunteering! By simply giving a helping hand to another person, studies show that you could (1) increase your life expectancy, (2) lesson symptoms of heart disease, and (3) lesson symptoms of chronic pain.
When you feel better physically, you exercise more, sleep more soundly, and eat better. Increased good nutrition leads to improved dental health and oral health as well. This allows you to eat better, and thus feel better, and so the cycle goes – win-win-win!
If you are looking for ways to volunteer in your San Diego County community, we encourage you to check out one of our favorites – Feeding America San Diego.
Other sources for San Diego County volunteer opportunities include: