The Mental Health Benefits Of Volunteering

Last Sunday (12/17/17), my family and I delivered Christmas- literally, to a family in need. This was our 8th year participating in this, and it never ceases to amaze me, the joy and ‘high’ that comes from participating in this program every year. It truly-never gets old.
Fueled by the experience of this, and in reflecting upon many other volunteer experiences I have participated in, and the amazing feeling that comes along with it, I decided, that this week’s blog, would be dedicated to how volunteering can improve ones’ mental health and well -being. Time and time again, experts have found that, volunteering, acts of service, giving back, however you want to phrase it:

1. Decreases your risk of depression. Volunteering with and for others increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common interests, causes, and passions. Having those connections, and systems of people in your life decreases depression, and increases endorphins.

2. Volunteering builds self-confidence and skill building. It can lead to knowledge of something new, but without the pressure of a paid job. You can learn a new skill (s) slowly perhaps, and not feel the heat of a boss, and/or that you have to do something. You are doing it because you want to.

3. You will most likely stay physically and mentally active. Many volunteer efforts require physical moving around, and activity, which in turn leads to even more enhanced endorphins!

4. Reduce stress levels, and change the way you look at your life, and the world at large. I cannot tell you how many times, I have been going thru a lot of overwhelming issues, and think that my life is ‘so hard’. All it takes is an experience like last weekend? And my perspective completely changes. And when perspective changes, we change, and when we change, we start changing the world around us-for the greater good.

5. And finally, volunteering can help you live longer. I can definitively say that I have personally witnessed this. In my work over the years, I have worked with many older individuals. I always say, that you can tell the difference between those that have embraced it, and those that have not. Those that have embraced it, and look at their golden years as further opportunity, look younger. And what I find with these folks, darn near 10 times out of 10, is that they have been doing some level of volunteer work.

Now with the benefits outlined above, one would think that finding an organization to volunteer with, would be easy. This is not always the case, and often I find that folks don’t know where to begin. With that said, I am now including, what I find to be, the best places to volunteer in Southeastern Michigan, as well as a volunteer match up service, that you can sign up for opportunities as they arise. If it has a star next to it, it means that I personally have volunteered with the organization, and/or have knowledge of their mission.
Happy Holidays to all, and Happy Volunteering!

* (sign up to be sent opportunities to volunteer in all areas of interest)

*Habitat for Humanity: 313-521-6691
Hospice of Michigan: 1-888-247-5701
Gleaners Community Food Bank: 313-923-3535
*Volunteers of America: 248-945-0101 (this is also, the organization that we adopt a family for Christmas every year with).
*United Way of Southeastern Michigan: 313-226-9200
Big Brothers/Big Sisters: 313-309-0500
*Humane Society of Michigan: 1-866-MHUMANE
* Michigan Cat Rescue: