Can Volunteering Provide Positive Benefits to My Mental Health?

Can Volunteering Provide Positive Benefits to My Mental Health?

Mental health is one of the most influential factors regarding our overall sense of well-being. It should be a top priority, whether you are trying to overcome a mental health challenge or striving to maintain good mental health. In order to figure out what you can do to support your mental health, it is important to understand what factors contribute to your overall wellness. 

Taking Care of Yourself as a Whole Person

Holistically speaking, there are multiple dimensions of our lives that we need fulfillment from in order to experience a sense of well-being. If you are looking for ways to improve your mental health, take stock of how you feel about different areas of your life. How are you doing physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually? You can examine the same areas if you are looking for ways to boost your mental health.

You need to take care of all areas that contribute to you as a whole, including:

  • Physical health: Your body can’t support positive mental functions if you aren’t taking care of it properly. Making sure that you are getting enough sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise is the foundation of your well-being.
  • Social connection: It has been shown that we need social connections to thrive. It is important to make sure that you have healthy relationships and time for socialization. 
  • Mental health: Our mental and emotional health can be closely tied. Good mental health means having the ability to process information, make decisions, and complete tasks.
  • Emotional health: Emotional health is your capacity to process and manage your emotions. 

How Does Volunteering Contribute to Wellness?

Being a volunteer can be one of the most rewarding things you can do with your extra time. When you volunteer, you offer a service to people in need and help the community utilize resources. Helping others will also give you some amazing mental health and wellness benefits.

Improves Physical Well-Being

Depending on what volunteer option you decide to participate in, it can help you increase your physical activity and break up your existing routine. When you seek help from others, you reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. You may also find that symptoms of chronic pain are reduced when you add volunteering to your schedule.

Fosters Social Connection

Volunteering provides a myriad of ways to connect with others socially. It is a great way to meet new people and find a social circle. You will be able to interact with others that share your interests within the volunteer organization. Through volunteering, you will also make connections with the people you are serving. Feeling connected to something bigger than yourself and becoming an important part of your community.

Strengthens Personal Skills

Your mental and emotional health can be improved by volunteering as well. When you are volunteering, you are presented with opportunities for problem-solving, time management, and many other important executive functions. It can also decrease feelings of depression and help regulate feelings of stress and anxiety. Your brain releases chemicals while volunteering that contribute to overall happiness and a sense of well-being. 

How to Get Started

You are more likely to have a fulfilling volunteer experience if you can find something that aligns with your goals and interests. The ultimate goal would be to have a pleasant experience while you are helping others. Consider several factors when deciding what volunteer experience would be the best fit for you. 

You can think about what level of interaction you are comfortable with. Working with children would most likely require a high amount of interpersonal interaction, for example. If that level of interaction is not something you would be comfortable with, you might be happier volunteering with animals or doing behind-the-scenes work in volunteer organizations. 

Finding a cause that you can get personally invested in is also a great way to guide your volunteer experience. Do you care about recycling? Cleaning up a community space? Visiting with socially isolated people within the community? There are so many ways to volunteer that will further the causes that matter most to you.

Finding Volunteer Opportunities

Sometimes finding volunteer options can be as simple as thinking about organizations that provide a service to your community. Try contacting places like animal shelters, libraries, community theaters, food banks, or local churches. Perhaps try contacting your local government offices, as they will likely be able to point you in the right direction.  

Consider looking for something to do on your own that is easily achievable. Some examples are picking up litter at a local city park, taking a collection of canned food items to donate to your local food bank, or donating toys to organizations that work with children. If you have any special skills like knitting or painting, you may also be able to find a way to channel that into a volunteer option. 

Several online organizations are specifically set up to match volunteers with volunteer opportunities. These organizations make it much easier to discover opportunities near you. A simple internet search can put a variety of volunteer options at your fingertips. 

Volunteering can be an excellent way to give back to your community. It also has the potential to strengthen your mental health at the same time. If you are feeling down, you are not alone! We may all find ourselves struggling at one point or another. Searching for ways to boost our resiliency can be daunting. If you have questions or concerns about your mental health, we can help you at Alter Wellness Care. We specialize in using the most effective evidence-based practices to help our clients overcome any challenges they face and reach their goals. Call our compassionate team today at (866) 311-3510 to get connected with a mental health team that will support you. 

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