Volunteering can give you a "helper's high" and actually enhance your health
Volunteering is a great way to help others and yourself. Research has repeatedly shown that working in the service of others enhances physical, mental and emotional well-being.
People who routinely help others often experience a “helper’s high" – a euphoric rush that releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. In addition to this feel-good rush, the health benefits of volunteering include a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as lower cholesterol levels and improved immune functioning.
Mental functioning gets a boost from volunteering, too. The brain needs exercise as much as the body, and performing acts of kindness and making new social connections help keep the mind stimulated.
Volunteering as a Social Activity
The social aspect of volunteering also promotes overall well-being.
The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that people who remain actively engaged in life tend to have better mental health and are more capable of coping with life transitions than those who don’t. Volunteering has also been shown to decrease anxiety and depression, improve self-esteem and diminish the effects of stress.
If you want to do something to add meaning to your life and reward you with happiness and a renewed feeling of vigour, become a volunteer.
For more information on volunteering, check out Volunteer BC.
Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.