Advice Independent Living

Emotional Benefits Of Helping Others During The Holidays

Senior woman volunteering

The season of giving is upon us and it is often a time when many think of ways to give back to their community. About 34 percent  of all charitable giving is done in the last three months of the year. However, giving to others doesn’t need to come in the form of monetary donations.

Opportunities to give back to your community can help you reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.

Improves Mental and Physical Health

The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which, in turn, protects you against depression.

According to a study  completed in 2016, the reward of giving and receiving social support creates the ultimate win-win situation. When someone in need receives help, he or she benefits directly from the social support; simultaneously, the giver benefits in specific brain regions associated with stress, reward, and caregiving.

Additional benefits can come from the activities you select. Working with pets and other animals has also been shown to improve mood, while reducing stress and anxiety.

Connecting with Community

Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. It strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests and neighborhood resources.

If you tend to be a little more introverted, volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests.

Adds Purpose

Volunteering also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.

You will have a richer and more enjoyable volunteer experience if you first take some time to identify your goals and interests. Think about why you want to volunteer. What would you enjoy doing? The opportunities that match both your goals and your interests are most likely to be fun and fulfilling. Asking yourself a series of questions will help you narrow your interests even more.

Take the Challenge

Use the holiday season as an opportunity to help others. Find one activity this winter that allows you to give back to your community. We promise, the benefits are worth it!

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