Have you ever considered the benefit you can glean from being of service to others? Do you know it can raise your self esteem and actually make you more grateful?
Here are some of the good things that can happen to you when you serve others:
According to Stephen Post from Stony Brook University in New York, the production of dopamine, the "feel good" hormone, is activated when we help others. When we volunteer, we feel as though we have a deeper purpose which leads to more happiness.
Negative emotions are reduced because our brains release oxytocin and serotonin when we help others. These chemicals, when released into our system, will buffer stress and help us to maintain social trust and tranquility.
May help to reduce pain
In a study done by Pain Management Nursing, people who participated in a volunteer training program experienced a noticeable reduction in pain. Volunteering takes our mind off of our troubles, in this case the pain, and makes us feel more in control of it.
Current studies indicate that volunteering may contribute to a 22% overall reduction in mortality rates, and it doesn't take that much time...25 hours per year will do the trick. That's about two hours per month.
Lower blood pressure
In a study conducted by Psychology and Aging, the researchers found adults over the age of 50 who volunteered 200 hours in the past year were 40% less likely to develop hypertension than their non-volunteering counterparts. They believe this is a result of being active, social, and behaving in an altruistic manner, which lowers stress.
Helps maintain sobriety and reduces mild depression
A study of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) members determined that those AA members that volunteered were much more likely to maintain their sobriety than those who did not volunteer. In many cases of mild depression, there is a link to social isolation. Volunteering keeps people in touch with each other and helps to develop a social support system.
According to the book The Halo Effect by John Raynolds, when you volunteer from a place of goodness, your life is positively impacted in all areas.
When you lead with your heart AND your head, the result is always positive. Even if you don't particularly love your job, the uplifting feeling you get from volunteering spills over into other areas of your life, including your job. You develop a feeling of purpose and fulfillment and feel happier, more confident and energized.
It's important that you care about the people you are helping in your volunteer efforts to reap the benefits to yourself. If you are resentful or feel obligated to help others, you will not feel good about the experience, causing a stress reaction. If you feel exploited or taken advantage of in any way, don't do it. You will be worse off than if you did nothing.
It's not all fun and games
Volunteering may not always be fun. As long as you feel like you are making a positive difference in someone's life, it will be gratifying and meaningful to you. Find something that matters to you and get involved in a meaningful way. You will be happier for having done so.
I get a lot of satisfaction from my volunteer work with WomenHeart. I am a community educator and I go where I can to speak to women about heart health. Sometimes I speak to two people and sometimes I speak to 100. Whatever the size of the audience, I am happy to bring the message to whoever needs to hear it.
Where will you find a reason to serve others?
I help women living with or at risk for developing heart disease or other chronic illness that we can manage through lifestyle and nutrition changes. Or maybe you're on the verge of developing heart disease, or diabetes, or another lifestyle related condition. If so, let's chat. For a free consultation with me, click here.