Sunday, June 25, 2017
by Sarah Thompson
Why Volunteering is Good for your Health
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”, (1 Peter 4:10). The power of volunteering has been documented since the days of time; however a slew of recent research is shedding even more light onto its surprising benefits.
1. Volunteering time makes you feel you have more time.
UPenn Wharton professor Cassie Mogilners research found those who volunteer their time feel like they have more of it. “The results show that giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’ and less time constrained than wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time.”
2. Volunteering can help with depression.
Depression causes increasingly negative thoughts known as “thinking errors” or cognitive distortions. These thoughts can be debilitating and can set off a cycle. Thoughts create feelings and bodily sensations which trigger actions, and if you are depressed, this action might be to sit on the couch feeling you have no energy to do anything. Volunteering gets you up and out the door and taking a positive action. Pushing ourselves into more positive action is one way to break the cycle of negative thoughts and low moods. Volunteering also can change your focus; even it’s just for an hour or so. This gives your mind a much needed break from your negative thoughts and can help move you to experiencing more positive ones.
3. Volunteering involves the power of social connection.
Despite our modern lives that push us inward, we are social animals who need interaction to flourish. Without it, we risk feeling misunderstood, isolated, and our self-confidence can be impacted. Volunteering has us interacting with others in valuable ways and being appreciated.
4. Volunteering changes your perspective.
It can show you different viewpoints on life by interacting with people you might not encounter otherwise and learning about the way they see and live their lives. This can cause a natural shift in the way you see and live yours.
5. Volunteering helps you have a healthier body.
Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health for those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression than those who do not volunteer.
6. Volunteering your experience helps build your experience.
Volunteering in a new industry can give you knowledge to help you switch fields should you want to move from the corporate world to the nonprofit sector, volunteering first can help prove your commitment.
7. Volunteering your love makes you feel more love.
When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Volunteering builds empathy, strengthens social bonds and makes you smile which are all factors that increase the feeling of love. Check out the numerous volunteer opportunities available through Old St. Pat’s on our website at www.oldstpats.org.
Sarah Thompson, LPC, Old St. Pat’s parish counselor, can bring healing, hope, and wholeness through psychologically informed counseling, integrating your values and religious beliefs into the therapeutic process. She has an office at 711 W. Monroe with day and evening hours and offers a sliding scale. Contact Sarah at 773.234.9630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.