The Happiness Effect of Volunteering

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Our volunteers often say how much they enjoy their volunteering and that they get a lot from their weekly visits, but did you know that it’s official that people who volunteer are happier than those who don’t?

Many studies have demonstrated that volunteering kindles happiness. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks.

Having good and positive relationships is another key source of happiness for most people and one of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. 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, neighbourhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities.

Volunteering can also boost your social skills which can help you to interact more effectively with others, again potentially increasing your happiness. While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. 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. Once you have momentum, it’s easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts.

It’s official, therefore, people who volunteer are happier than those that don’t.

We are taking a break from volunteer induction training over the Summer but have training courses coming up in September and October. Email us now if you would like to find out more at volunteering@volunteerlink.org.uk. It’s time to get happy!

 

Do You Want to be Happier and Healthier?

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We all know how volunteering benefits others but did you know that volunteering has been proved to be hugely beneficial for volunteers themselves?  Just look on the internet and you’ll find many articles about how doing good for others helps us to lead healthier and happier lives.

Firstly, research has shown that volunteering can decrease the risk of depression. Volunteering increases social interaction as it involves meeting new people and developing new relationships.  It also helps build a support system based on common interests. Both of these factors have been shown to decrease depression.

Volunteering also gives a sense of purpose and teaches valuable skills. The work that Volunteer Link volunteers do in providing a much needed service to lonely and isolated people gives purpose and meaning to the lives of those providing the service.  Volunteers also learn useful skills both in formal training and whilst volunteering.

Volunteering can also help us to keep mentally active, a study released by John Hopkins University in 2009 shows that volunteering actually increases brain functioning. Furthermore in our stressful world volunteering has been shown to reduce stress, as spending time with others in need can give a sense of meaning and appreciation, which can be calming.

The feel good sense that you get after a workout can also apply to volunteering. It comes from a release of dopamine in the brain after having helped someone. The more you volunteer the happier you become.

So if you aren’t already convinced to volunteer to help others, how about doing it to help yourself?

Volunteer Link are recruiting for their next Volunteers Induction training to be held on 18th April. Send an email to volunteering@volunteerlink.org.uk if you want to join us and you could be on your way to becoming happier and healthier.