We lead such busy lives these days that even thinking about volunteering can make our stress levels rise. But volunteering actually might be just the right medicine for a hectic life.
One of the many benefits of volunteering is that it can help ease stress. Connecting with other people in a meaningful way can provide a profound sense of pleasure that boosts our physical and psychological well-being.
Research shows that people who volunteer live longer—and with less disability and depression—than those who don't volunteer.
Volunteering also can offer more material benefits.
For example, it gives you the chance to try out a whole new career without having to leave your current job. Are you interested in working in health care? Check out volunteer opportunities at a hospital or a nursing home. You can talk to the people who work there. You can gain some experience in the field. And you'll have made valuable contacts if you decide to switch careers.
Or maybe you're wondering if you should go back to school and get a degree in social work. Volunteering at a women's shelter or at a church working with homeless teens could help you decide if that's the right career path for you.
Keep in mind that volunteering doesn't have to involve a long-term commitment or take up a large amount of time. Even helping out a little bit can make a difference in your life and in the lives of those in need.