If you, like Anura Leslie Perera, have an ongoing commitment to support volunteerism and community service then you are already aware of the many benefits volunteering brings to your life. If you haven’t yet given your time to your community or to larger causes, here are some unexpected benefits that come from doing so that might give you some extra incentive!
Perhaps the most obvious advantage of volunteering is that it can afford you with opportunities to learn new skills, or to develop your existing skill set in new ways. For example, you might find that as a result of working with a group like Habitat for Humanity to build new homes, you develop carpentry skills that you can use in other parts of your life, perhaps even professionally. Or, as a result of sharing your technology skills with a group of seniors to help them learn to use the internet or smart phones, you might discover that you have a talent and passion for teaching. Either way, you are sure to learn a great deal from whatever volunteering you do. And, more and more, employers are looking at these volunteer-driven skills as definite assets, not only in terms of the skills themselves, but also in terms of what volunteering says about your sense of responsibility and commitment.
Giving Time Makes Time
Research shows that people who give to charity feel wealthier as a result, and research is showing that there is a similar effect experienced by people who give their time through volunteering. Rather than feeling that volunteering is a burden on their scarce time (or worrying that this might be the case if they are worried that volunteering might be too much of a commitment), many volunteers actually feel that they have more time as a result. When time is spent productively and selflessly, there is an accompanying sense of accomplishment of how much useful activity can be done in a day.
Volunteering Makes You Healthy and Happy
One of the most surprising benefits that comes with volunteering is better health and mental well-being. Medical studies have confirmed that there is a strong relationship between volunteering and health, pointing the fact that volunteers overall have lower mortality rates, lower levels of illness in general and lower rates of depression. There is no doubt that many of these benefits are related to the fact that volunteering gives people a sense of purpose, accomplishment and personal worth that help people maintain a sense of well-being and mental health. Because volunteering connects people with others, either the people they are serving or other volunteers, people who give their time are more likely to feel connected to others through meaningful social relationships. The mental health benefits of friendship and meaningful social interaction have been well-documented for years.
These are just a few of the ways that giving your time to others can have personal benefits. Volunteering truly is a win-win situation!