How Volunteering Helps Your Emotional Health

By Nicole Gur on 24/02/2020

Arta Mekuli our guest post blogger is a young student, eager to write about what’s important, interesting, and all the things in between. With a hunger for knowledge and distributing it to others, she now writes for Studying in Switzerland, which is a blog dedicated to giving you all the information you’ll need for life in Switzerland.

Volunteering — an activity that is often quickly disregarded by people due to overflowing agendas. But, even the busiest day-to-day lives have a pinch of free time in them and reserving some of it for helping others should at least get a chance at competing with our other duties.

While most of us will volunteer once or twice a year and usually around the holiday season, the benefits of actively participating in such activities can be numerous. It’s not just making the world a better and easier place to live in — albeit, that is a good reason on its own — it’s also a service to oneself that can be of help with a great deal of problems.

Whether you’re studying abroad and have trouble meeting new people, or stress at work has been on your back lately – volunteering for a good cause can help ease things up. And, even if it doesn’t make your problems go away, it can provide a general sense of wellbeing. Plus, you get to pick something that genuinely means something to you to devote your time to and help yourself while helping others.

Finding Purpose in Life and the Changes That Follow

Sometimes life can develop in such a way that puts our beliefs and intentions in a shaky and unsure position, or we just lose the sense of what we want to do, which leaves us doing nothing. When that happens, it can feel like we forgot the reason we wake up every day and consecutively impact how and what we do routinely.

Dedicating time and soul into something you believe in can not only help you find purpose, but naturally change the direction of your life. Whether that is the end of a relationship in which your “value gap” became apparent, or you quit a job you were working with no passion, the impact of doing something you deeply care about will be felt all around.

Socializing, Bonds, and Friends

An almost obvious result of volunteering is the social factor. But, along with the social niceties that take place at first, come bigger connections. This is a natural occurrence when people with the same core values spend time together.

Humans are social beings who need each other to get by. However, if your people skills aren’t the best, creating a social circle can prove to be hard on you. And by volunteering, you can make the first contact way easier than, say, in a neutral area. Volunteering is an excellent way to find like-minded people, which is not an easy task, no matter where you fall on the sociable spectrum.

These people are not just someone you will meet and forget. Since joining a particular cause generally means you share a passion, long-lasting bonds are a very likely outcome. This can be especially helpful if you find yourself in a foreign country and lost in the crowd. You can always sign up to volunteer for something that pulls on your heartstrings and find your ‘clan.’

Mental Health and Empathy

With the rapid pace that life is going at, it seems that everyone is in a trance of either appearing or being busy all the time. This leaves mental health in the second plan, and a bit left aside. At a time like that, it’s good to slow yourself down and deal with your brain, and volunteering can be of help with that. Although it is often said that ‘humans are selfish beings’ and only enjoy personal gains, research is there to tell us a different story and remind us of what scientifically makes us happy.

Charitable work releases the feel-good hormone called oxytocin, which in turn leads to less stress and more happiness put simply. And if not stress, it can help you deal with depression – by taking you away from your thoughts for a good portion of time and serving you with feelings of accomplishment to take home. And, feeling accomplished can generate higher self-esteem. Apart from all that, as a result of the connections created, volunteering prevents isolation and inflates the feeling of being understood.

Lastly, volunteering can wake up the essence of humanity in us – empathy. By helping others, you often question what it would be like to walk a mile in those shoes. That’s the beginning of understanding one-another and when compassion starts to translate into empathy, which can both have a positive impact on your outlook on life.

At the end of the day, volunteering can help us gain introspection and extrospection. While helping others helps us heal from the outside in, it also gives us a better understanding of other people. Whether that’s the people we’re helping or the people we’re working with. And the more we understand, the more humane it makes us, which in turn gives a closer look at who we really are inside. And, if anything, it never hurts to spend our free hours on something more useful than TV or internet surfing. Volunteering can do good for us while we’re doing good for someone else.

Now it’s time to choose the best fit for you 🙂 You can browse through over 5,000 organizations GivingWay works with here!
If you currently can’t volunteer abroad, there is always the option to work online from your own home. To start your search, click here.