According to the University of Sydney, Australians spend a staggering 700 million hours volunteering each year. Which boils down to about 30 hours per person, per year. That is a lot for an individualised culture who seem to be very selfish. So why do people volunteer? Are there selfish motivations or ulterior motives? It turns out there is! Volunteering is good for you as well as those you assist. This is especially true for those who volunteer in a field they are passionate about.
So, what are the benefits?
- You feel a sense of community
When you are a brick in the wall of an ongoing project you might start to feel part of a large indestructible force as you begin to be accepted by those around you and to understand your significance within the group. As humans we tend to seek out these relationships fervently and studies have shown that we receive a large amount of health benefits from them. Harvard Medical School reported on the findings that social interaction helps relieve harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system. There is also the suggestion that caring behaviours trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones. So, having a cause to focus on with a social group may be good for your health.
- You feel accomplished and helpful
A sense of accomplishment is something many of us want from our lives and the tasks we complete. This is something that may be especially evident when we apply ourselves to tasks which have a benefit to others. Seeing how our work helps people can lead to feeling gratified and fulfilled. Helping others is also contagious. If you help someone, they may be more likely to help you; and not just you. Sometimes people see others being helpful (and how happy it makes them) and they want to contribute as well. Being helpful sometimes inspires, motivates and creates an environment to provide solutions to individual problems.
- It builds your confidence
The sense of accomplishment you might gain when helping people, can be accompanied by a boost in your own perception and confidence of self. HelpGuide.org states that your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals. We all know the effect injecting a little positivity into your life can have. When confidence breeds confidence, even the people around you may begin to have pride in themselves, inadvertently helping more than just those you’re volunteering for.
- You get the opportunity to learn new skills
Volunteering offers you the chance to do something you wouldn’t normally partake in. Learning something new can increase brain function, allowing you to learn even more new skills, quickly and with greater ease. Essentially utilising the knowledge fire, while adding more coal. Learning new skills might make you a more interesting person and expand your social horizons. It can lead to spending time with new and interesting people, offering up new and interesting topics for conversation.
- Happiness is contagious
Moods can be contagious! If you walk into a room and someone is angry, you may start to get frustrated as well. Same goes with happiness. If you are truly enjoying a situation, you might influence the mood of those around you. Can you recall people who are so positive that they light up the room and mood seems to lighten with them? This atmosphere is conducive to conveying that nice fuzzy feeling in our own hearts, which can encourage you to reciprocate and so on and so on… Then all of a sudden we are all smiley fools, in a group of other smiley fools, passing our smiley foolishness on to the next smiley fool!
These five benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. Many people seem to find volunteering unending in advantages, which is why there is so much of it around, especially in times of crisis. It’s a strength of human nature to rally together, even in an individualistic society. So, by supporting others, especially those in need, we are in fact supporting ourselves
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY JAYMEE RICHARDS