With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. Giving to others can help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.
Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person.
Volunteering combats depression. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against depression.
Volunteering provides a sense of purpose. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more zest to your life.
Find the right volunteer opportunity. You’re donating your valuable time, so it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your volunteering. To make sure that your volunteer position is a good fit:
• Ask questions – you want to make sure that the experience is right for your skills and the time you want to spend.
• Know what’s expected – you should be comfortable with the organization and understand the time commitment. Consider starting small so that you don’t overcommit yourself at first.
• Don’t be afraid to make a change – don’t force yourself into a bad fit or feel compelled to stick with a volunteer role you dislike. Talk to the organization about changing your focus or look for a different organization that’s a better fit.
SeniorsPlus has many volunteer opportunities you might enjoy. Please contact us at 1-800-427-1241.
Holly Zielinski is the Chief Operating Officer for SeniorsPlus.