Most of us had to meet a volunteer requirement in high school. For a lot of us, it felt like a chore so that we could eventually graduate, and then some went above and beyond for graduation ribbons. Or maybe your mom signed you up to volunteer at a kids’ camp so that you wouldn’t play video games all summer. Whatever the case might have been, volunteering is good for you.

My Anecdote

I needed 100 hours of community service to graduate from high school. I remember racking my brain for ideas. The last thing I wanted to do during my downtime was spent it doing something I dreaded. The idea of cleaning dog poop at a rescue shelter for 100 hours sounded like pure torture to me, so I volunteered at a retirement home. (Not that spending all day with dogs doesn’t have its benefits.) I learned something about myself when I was working there. I love old people. They are hands down the funniest demographic out there. 

Most of my time spent at the retirement home was teaching classes on how to send an email, but I would play dominos with a few retired Cuban guys the rest of the time. The stories I heard from that ragtag group still have me laughing. I learned a lot from them, but they had a lot to teach with no one who would listen. I miss those guys. 

Benefits for Volunteering

Mental and Physical Health

There is something about helping other people out that our brains are wired to love. We release dopamine when we volunteer. Crazy to think that helping others makes us happy, but it makes sense. 

Being in service to others can lead to feelings of appreciation and a sense of meaning, leading to a stress-reducing effect. Volunteering can help ease stress by giving you a feeling of meaningful purpose. 

I don’t know about you, but I sit in a chair for my job. My hobbies include sitting in a chair as well. And while I love gaming with the buys and escaping into whatever book I’m reading at the time, volunteering gets me out of my house and moving. Yeah, I go to the gym, but is that enough to counter my super sedentary lifestyle? 

Something To Do

Even outside of a pandemic, many of us have way too much time on our hands. Don’t get me wrong, we all deserve our downtime. But I’ll be the first to admit that there are days where I have nothing to do and not in a good or healthy “take a break” kind of way. Volunteering can give you something to look forward to on those days that just feel empty. We, as individuals, are more than our jobs. And spending time outside of your job, doing good, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can all be a great catalyst for growth. 

Social Networking

It’s so easy to view volunteer work as a chore. But can’t most things in life be viewed as a chore, especially when you are lazy like me? But there are real benefits to volunteering outside of helping others who might need it. Volunteering can lead to meeting others with shared interests as you. We all have a heart for some sort of cause, and surrounding yourself with people who share the same idea as you is never a bad thing.

Volunteering is Good for You

At the end of a really busy work week, the last thing on our minds is going out and doing more work intentionally unless you are a workaholic who doesn’t know how to take a break. But maybe we need to start dedicating more of our free time in service to others. Not just for them, or because doing good in the world is great, but we can be a little selfish with our reasons. We don’t all have to be saints.

Volunteering reduces stress and anxiety. And after two years of living in a pandemic, we all have some excess stress we want gone. There’s only so much gym and exercise a person can take before their body starts to fall apart, so hopefully, finding a new avenue of stress-relief, on top of what you already do, will help out. Do some good and get some good out of it. It is that simple.      

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