Giving your time for a good cause is unquestionably a mental health booster. Anytime you do something for someone else, without any thought of personal gain, you get in the feel-good zone, raising your feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine.
I’ve always been a firm believer that taking my mind off my own troubles and giving something to someone else always improves my feelings of well-being and self-worth.
Thinking about other people is a stress reducer, and as has been proven by countless research papers, lower stress equals a reduced risk of almost all chronic diseases.
Doing something for others makes us all feel more socially connected and less lonely and depressed.
But now there is solid scientific evidence that there are physical as well as mental health benefits in volunteering.
Here’s an interesting study result: People who volunteer actually live longer, as long as they are truly being altruistic and not doing good work for personal gain or just to make themselves feel better.
Volunteering also contributes to lower blood pressure, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study. All it takes is about 100 hours of volunteer work a year (just under two hours a week) to reduce blood pressure and contain risks of heart attacks and sudden death.
The study showed that people aged 51 to 91 who volunteered reduced their risk of high blood pressure by 40% over the following four years. That’s pretty impressive!
A Johns Hopkins study showed that older people who volunteer are able to improve their brain function.
So what are you waiting for? If you’re 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or more, get yourself down to the soup kitchen and chop some veggies or clean out some cages at your local animal shelter or read to folks in a nursing home.
You’ll be doing good for people for society and, ultimately, for yourself.