Spring is a time for a fresh start. Did you know that one of the best things you can do for yourself is to help others? Finding a cause and community really does bring its own benefits. Here are eight of them:
- Decreasing symptoms of depression – Some 40 studies show that volunteering can decrease depression symptoms, and one survey of more than 3,000 volunteers showed that 94 percent of them reported an improved mood.
- Making social connections to improve physical health and psychological well-being – Social connection strengthens our immune systems, helps us recover from disease faster and may even lengthen life. Conversely, studies have shown that a lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
- Connecting with your community
- Making a positive impact in others’ lives
- Increasing sense of life satisfaction
- Bettering your own career
- Enhancing your education
- Exploring different interests
Searching for a Volunteer Opportunity
You can begin by recognizing that you don’t need a particular skill set to become a volunteer. Rather, think about what causes you care most about and who you would feel most happy to support. Look online for organizations that are local to your area, and then pick up the phone and call, or send an email to inquire about volunteer opportunities. Many nonprofit organizations need various types of help. Still stumped? Look online at organizations such as volunteermatch.org that are specifically designed to help connect volunteers to organizations that need support. You can also visit the UMass Memorial website for opportunities.
Join the conversation. Where do you volunteer?