Helping others by giving or volunteering is not only a rewarding and meaningful experience; the joy you get from giving really can have a positive effect on your health.
Let’s explore some ways you can give back and enhance your health in the process.
The many forms of giving
The joy of giving can come in many ways, some of which, we do without even thinking:
- Spending money on others or donating to a charity
- Giving the gift of time, support or laughter
- Random acts of kindness or giving someone a sincere compliment
- Donating blood or becoming an organ donor
You can also give in a more formal way through volunteering.
Volunteering is defined as “time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain”. Whilst we know volunteering will not make you rich with cash, the benefits are just as valuable.
- give you a sense of achievement and purpose
- help you feel part of a community
- help you feel better about yourself by improving your self-esteem and confidence
- help you share your skills, learn new skills and create a better work-life balance.
If those reasons aren’t enough, volunteering may also improve your social connection and your health.
The health benefits of giving
It has been suggested that volunteering should be routinely recommended as a healthy lifestyle choice, similar to keeping active or eating well.
Some evidence suggests volunteering may have a positive effect on:
Everyone is different – so the amount of volunteering you do should also be considered. Doing more volunteer hours might be great for increasing your physical activity and social connection, but less is sometimes more when it comes to looking after your mental health.
Keeping a balance between altruism (being more concerned with others than yourself) and self-care is important.
Ways to start your giving journey
With 5.8 million Australians volunteering each year, what’s stopping you from getting started?
Try these online resources to find the best volunteering opportunity for you:
Looking for opportunities in your local community can be fruitful. Not for profit organisations such as hospitals, sporting clubs and schools often have well established volunteer programs and will welcome new volunteers.
Make next year your year for good health and add volunteering to your routine.