As a nonprofit professional, it probably comes as no surprise that I am a firm believer in the importance of helping others and giving back to your community. I love what I do, but it was as a volunteer that I really experienced the mental health upside of giving back.
Better Living Through Volunteering
We all pretty much understand the benefits to others when we volunteer: providing meals, uplifting spirits, supporting underserved children. What might not be as obvious are the ways we benefit as the volunteers.
Studies show those who volunteer regularly have lower mortality rates and rank their overall health higher than those who do not. Additionally, volunteers report lower levels of stress, depression and feel more satisfied with their lives. When we do good, we feel good too.
Passing Out Free Hugs
I first learned about, and fully experienced this phenomenon while interning with the UC Santa Barbara Health & Wellness Program as a college student. My favorite memories are of our awareness events where we engaged our fellow students in various “happy-ventions” scientifically proven to make individuals happier and healthier. Giving out gratitude journals, free hugs and talking about wellness research was more fun than hanging out at college parties — at least it upped the endorphins!
Catching the Helper’s High
Maybe it was the extra oxytocin rushing through my brain from all the free hugs I was giving out, but I can attest to the power of the “helper’s high.” Helping my peers cope with stress and anxiety helped me manage my own stress and anxiety levels. That experience is probably a large part of why I have dedicated my career to helping others. I love that my job gives me an opportunity to give back every day, and I really love working with volunteers.
Our volunteers not only choose to spend their free time helping further our mission, but they are some of the most compassionate, friendly, and genuinely happy individuals I have met. Volunteers are often unsung heroes, but they do so much for their communities. It’s good to know volunteering supports their well-being too!
Interested in Volunteering with Us?
Mindful Littles volunteers work with children and community members, earn volunteer hours and learn mindfulness and compassion skills. We value the unique backgrounds, skills, creativity and enthusiasm our volunteers bring to the Mindful Littles experience!