The Health Benefits of Adult Volunteering
Only about 25% of American adults are volunteering regularly, which means 75% of adults are missing out on the awesome health benefits of being a volunteer. Of course, with the difficulty of achieving a healthy work/life balance it can be hard to fit time volunteering into your busy schedule. But, finding these opportunities and making them habits can be easier than you think.
According to research gathered by The United Health Group, 76% of people who volunteered in the last year said it made them feel healthier. 78% claim it lowered their stress levels, while 96% say it enriched their lives. But there’s more than anecdotal evidence to prove giving back makes you healthier. In fact, researchers at Exeter medical school in England found that people who volunteer regularly have 20% lower risk of death. A Carnegie Mellon study has also found that people who log 200 hours or more of volunteering a year have significantly lower blood pressure.
It’s easier to make time for something if you’re excited about it. So start by finding a passion project. Websites like HandsOn and VolunteerMatch allow you to search volunteer projects by zip code as well as categories. It also helps to have a community to keep you accountable. Consider volunteering with coworkers, or setting up a work initiative to volunteer. Not only will you be working alongside people potentially facing the same time challenges as you, you’ll have the support necessary for sustainability.
While there is volunteering in the form of helping out at soup kitchens or in nursing homes, you also might find it easier to volunteer services or skills you have like design or marketing. If this is the direction you want to take, start by finding community programs that need your services whose mission you feel excited about. Lastly, if you really are crunched for time, there’s always the ability to give money. Websites like Youcaring allow you to find causes you feel driven towards as well as start your own fundraiser perhaps for a specific organization or need you see in your community.
Getting out there and making time for volunteering can be challenging, but the benefits are clear. Do you volunteer? How do you make it work with your busy schedule? Have you found any health benefits from it? We’d be happy to hear any ideas, tips, or tricks in the comments below.