Could volunteering for St Luke’s Hospice help you live longer?
This might sound a bit tongue in cheek but there are actually many surprising benefits to volunteering, and as many of our volunteers would testify, it seems that the real beneficiaries are often the volunteers themselves.
Volunteers offer invaluable support in improving the lives of others but being involved in this way is actually associated with improved life satisfaction, increased happiness and decreased symptoms of depression.
Whether offering your time, skills, or resources, volunteering is one of the most fulfilling and powerful ways to make a difference in the world. Even helping with the smallest of tasks can have a positive and significant impact on the lives of others. And it seems that, helping others can enhance your own wellbeing in return. If you are undecided about whether volunteering might be right for you, it may come as a surprise to learn just how much you could gain.
As well as the rewarding feeling that comes from the satisfaction of helping others, volunteers often benefit from feeling valued and part of a team, learning new skills, gaining confidence and self-esteem and using one’s knowledge to benefit others.
For many, volunteering appeals because of its social benefits and these are the ones which have the most meaningful impact on your own health. These include meeting new people, an increased sense of purpose and a chance to socialise. And the benefits can last a lifetime both for those being helped and by those doing the volunteering.
It can help you to feel more connected to others and to your community, help you make new friends and being part of a team can be a uniquely bonding experience.
Increased social contact with others can also have a profound impact on your mental health. Meaningful and regular connections help you to develop a support network which effects your psychological wellbeing by relieving stress and anxiety.
Helping others makes us happy
Studies have revealed that humans are programmed to give to others. Researchers have measured hormones and brain activity and have discovered that being helpful to others, delivers a deep sense of joy. In short, the more we give, the happier we feel!
Stay healthy & live longer
Perhaps the most surprising and significant benefit of all is that, according to studies of the over 70s, frequent volunteers live longer compared to non-volunteers. Older volunteers are generally more active and so less likely to develop high blood pressure and have better thinking skills. Extraordinarily, volunteering has also been found to lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.
How to volunteer for St Luke’s
As we start the New Year, we again need volunteers to help in all areas from our shops to our events. If you would like to find out more about how you could get involved, please visit our Volunteering page.