Updated: Jan 13, 2019
This May is National Volunteer Week in Australia, and there is good evidence that volunteering not only benefits our communities it is hugely beneficial for us.
There is something enormously gratifying about volunteering which leaves us feeling as though we get more out of it than we give. Volunteering has been shown to be fantastic for both our mental and physical health, and we feel it. We feel the benefits of being physically active along with that uplifting sense of social connection and belonging, and now researchers are measuring it!
There is evidence that volunteering is particularly beneficial as we age, to stave off feelings of isolation and loneliness that can overwhelm some people leading to adverse mental health outcomes such as depression. People who volunteer regularly report increased feelings of subjective well-being and it has been suggested volunteering may provide a protective factor for maintaining happiness as we age. This may be due to the social interaction volunteering provides which facilitates attachment and bonds of friendship, and improves mental and physical health according to Psychology Today.
Keeping physically and mentally active are proved predictors of good brain health and positive ageing. Building our cognitive reserves through maintaining stimulating lives, promotes brain function thereby reducing the risk of age related cognitive decline.
There is also some suggestion that volunteering reduces the effects of chronic pain, with the relationship between life purpose and pain having been shown to be moderated by engaging with volunteering.
However, the best part of volunteering and the bit that is often overlooked is that it's just plain fun. Volunteering provides the chance to not only change your life, but the lives of those in your community and beyond.
Are you ready to have more fun, living a purposeful life while developing skills, making friends and benefitting your mental and physical health?
Contact our volunteer co-ordinator Chris McCalman for more information