Did you know that volunteering and helping others doesn’t just feel good, it actually improves your health and happiness? One of the biggest obstacles to helping people is that many people don’t think they are the right person to do the job.  Sometimes, it’s our own struggles that give us the unique perspective and the courage to help someone else on their journey. Whether you volunteer your time or donate to a good cause, giving to others has been shown in a variety of studies to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Combat depression
  • Improve heart health
  • Boost happiness

In fact, research by Blue Zones estimates that finding purpose in your life by helping others can help you live up to seven years longer.

I know you’re probably asking yourself…how am I going to find time to volunteer when I already have to sleep for eight hours, make time to exercise regularly, work and most importantly, find time to spend with family? Well here are a few suggestions:

Align your purpose with your passion. Don’t volunteer to simply check something off of your “to do list”.  Think about someone or something you care about and build on that joy.  Love animals?  Volunteer at a local animal shelter or foster a dog in need.  Miss your grandma or that favorite aunt that died too young?  Raise money for cancer research or participate in our Pass the Word fundraiser.  Are you a sports fanatic?  Coach a local team for kids or help a neighbor boy/girl practice their favorite sport.

Every gesture is grand. Most people say they don’t know where to start.  Volunteering doesn’t have to be official or a grand gesture to count.  Donating a few dollars to your kids’ lemonade stand, helping a neighbor rake his lawn, or helping out at school or church are all important and worthy.  Even helping someone at the grocery store is grand gesture.

Make a connection by giving your time. Giving to people who are close to us feels the best, but we can experience greater happiness be using it as an opportunity to become closer to them.  For instance, instead of buying a gift certificate for someone, accompany them to the store and buy the gift with them.  This will allow you to spend time with them and strengthen your relationship and you will get to see the smile on their face while they’re enjoying their gift.

We often think of volunteering as a way to help others, but volunteering – whether we share our time, talent, or treasure – often leaves us feeling happy beyond measure. Find something you care about and give yourself the joy of moving that passion forward. You can also be a volunteer at Bellin Health.  They’ll match your particular interests, skills and availability with the hospital’s needs.  For more information, click on the link below.