Do you need more reasons to persuade you to become a volunteer? Here about 4 of them:
First: You’ll live longer. Researchers at the University of Michigan tracked over 1,200 seniors for a decade. The result: Those who volunteered on a regular basis were 40-percent more likely to be alive at the end of the study. That’s because volunteering increases the levels of hormones that help cells repair themselves.
The next benefit of volunteering: The “helper’s high.” Dr. Stephen Post is the author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping. And he says just thinking about doing a good deed causes your brain to release the feel-good chemical dopamine. And helping others releases so much mood-boosting serotonin that it’s just as effective as some medications at treating depression.
Another good reason to volunteer: You’ll feel better about yourself! In one study, people with multiple sclerosis were trained to provide compassionate support over the phone to fellow MS sufferers. The result? The helpers were more self-confident and reported higher levels of self-esteem.
Finally: Helping others improves relationships. Dr. Stephanie Brown specializes in preventive medicine. And points to research on people who take care of a spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. No matter how challenging things get, if there was love and caring in the relationship to begin with, the caregiver develops even stronger feelings of love and compassion for their ailing mate.