Volunteering is Good for the Soul
Doing things for the good of others can give you a ‘helper’s high’. It seems that an kind act of generosity activates the part of our brain connected to a sense of reward and pleasure. Volunteering also allows you to engage with your community, which is linked to greater life satisfaction. You don’t have to devote huge amounts of time and energy either – every little bit helps. Researchers found that helping others, or engaging in benevolent behavior benefits the well-being of both parties and the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Here’s how to make the most of volunteering:
Pick a cause you care about
Giving because you feel you have to can be counterproductive, so try to volunteer both in a way that feels enjoyable and for a cause you believe in. For example, if you are passionate about animals, then helping in a rescue center might be a perfect fit for you; if you enjoy gardening, then perhaps a local hospital or park needs people to help maintain the grounds.
Figure out what works best for you
Do you love the camaraderie of a team, or prefer to achieve things on your own? Or would you prefer to volunteer with a friend to make it more enjoyable?
Be open minded
Volunteering can allow you to learn new skills or try new things, so don’t be too rigid about what you do.
Make a commitment
Be realistic about how much time you have to volunteer- two hours a week, one afternoon a month – and stick to it. If an ad-hoc arrangement suits you better, find an occasional opportunity such as a beach clean.
Be prepared to learn
Ask questions when you need to, take notes, shadow an experienced volunteer. You’ll get far more out of a volunteering experience when you know what you are doing.