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Helping Others Helps You

by Beth on April 11th, 2023

I recently joined the board of Hands On Atlanta and I’m excited to be part of an organization that so closely aligns with my passion for well-being. The mission of Hands On Atlanta is to tackle the city’s most pressing needs, such as education, food security, and sustainability. Thousands of people benefit from the work of the non-profits with whom we partner.

But that’s not all! We also improve the well-being of thousands of volunteers for whom we offer opportunities to serve. Helping people find ways to help others contributes to their own health, happiness, and fulfillment. Here are some specific benefits of volunteering:

  • Health – Research shows that helping people on a regular basis improves our health and longevity. After 10 weeks of volunteering with an after-school program for elementary school children, participants in one study had lower levels of cholesterol and inflammation. A longitudinal study of older adults found those who volunteered four hours a week were significantly less likely to develop high blood pressure. Another study of over 50,000 people in California found that participants who volunteered for more than one organization had 63% lower mortality than non-volunteers.
  • Happiness – Studies show that people who volunteer more have higher levels of activity in the region of the brain associated with pleasure. This euphoric feeling we experience when helping others has been referred to as a “helper’s high”.
  • Stress management – Volunteering can lower stress by expanding our sense of time. Spending time on others makes us feel more effective, so we have the sense that we can accomplish a lot. This makes us feel like we have more time.
  • Social connection – Volunteering provides opportunities for social connection and a sense of community, which can decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Self-confidence – Volunteering can help us develop new skills and experiences, which can boost our self-esteem and sense of competence.
  • Fulfillment – Serving others is one of the best ways to increase our sense of meaning and purpose. It lets us feel that we are part of something larger than our own individual concerns. This is one of the reasons volunteers report greater life satisfaction. It may also explain the link with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Volunteering shifts your focus from yourself and your own problems to focusing on others and their needs.

I encourage you to look for ways that you can serve others. It’s a win-win situation!  Helping others helps you improve your own well-being.

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