4 Reasons why volunteering is so good for you
Diverse Voices recognises that in our contemporary society, there are competing demands on our busy lives and it can be incredibly challenging to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family, and your community. Volunteering can help you find friends through greater networks, reach out to the community, learn new skills, and even change or advance your career. Additionally, volunteering can also help protect your mental and physical health, so it’s well worth exploring your local community for how you can get involved.
Benefit #1 – Connections
It is widely known that one of the benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community and its people; as volunteers are often the glue that holds a community together and enriches the lives of the people in that community. Additionally, the individual volunteer benefits just as much through new friends, expanded networks, and a healthy boost to social skills and confidence.
Volunteering helps you make new friends and contacts
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships and ties is to commit to a shared activity together, such as those offered through multiple volunteering organisations. The experience will strengthens your ties to the community and broaden your support network, exposing you to others with common interests, neighbourhood resources, through fulfilling activities.
Volunteering increases your interpersonal and social skills
Some people are naturally outgoing and confident; others are more reserved and have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills; this is especially the case if you volunteer with a group of people with common interests or shared experience.
Benefit #2 – Increased Physical & Mental Health
Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health. In some reports:
Volunteering increases self-confidence
Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
Volunteering combats depression
Reducing the risk of depression is another important benefit of volunteering. A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times.
Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy
Volunteering is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. Volunteering has also been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.
Benefit #3 – Career Growth
Volunteering can help you get experience in your area of interest and meet people in the field, especially if you’re considering a new career. Additionally, volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice important workplace skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organisation.
Volunteering provides career experience and pathways
Volunteering is a fabulous way to gain experience in a new field by offering you the chance to try out a new career without making a long-term commitment. In some industries, you can volunteer directly at an organisation that does the kind of work you’re interested in. Your volunteer placement or opportunity might also expose you to professional organisations or internships that could be of benefit to your career.
Volunteering teaches you invaluable job skills
Many volunteering opportunities provide extensive training which can be used as evidence of your current workplace competency and skill sets. Volunteering can also help you build upon skills you already have and use them to benefit the greater community.
Benefit #4 – Fun & Fulfilment
Volunteering can be a fabulous and exciting way to explore your interests and passions. Simply by giving up a few hours of leisure time, you can volunteer in meaningful and interesting ways that can be relaxing, or an energising escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments. Volunteering also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life. Many individuals combine volunteering and leisure time, and therefore seek out opportunities that align with their hobbies, passions and interests. For example, they might have an interest in craft or quilting and choose to volunteer for an organisation that makes items for charities or those less fortunate.
Consider your goals and interests
You will have a richer and more enjoyable volunteering experience if you first take some time to identify your goals, hobbies and interests. Start by thinking about why you want to volunteer and what you would enjoy doing. Volunteer opportunities that match both your goals and your interests are most likely to be fun and fulfilling for you. (Source: Volunteering Queensland, www.volunteeringqld.org.au)