16 March 2020 | Volunteering | Back to Blog

How volunteering can help you live a happier life

Whoever you are and whatever your age, volunteering can give you the all-important help you need to divert your focus away from daily stresses, maintain a healthy mindset and add more spice to your life. Research shows that those who volunteer regularly live longer than those who do not. As we grow older, volunteering encourages us to walk more, to better manage everyday tasks, and to keep our blood pressure at a healthy level – not forgetting keeping our minds more active. So keep reading to discover five ways that volunteering can help you live a happier life.

1. It connects you to others

If you’ve recently moved to a new area, you might be feeling lonely or wondering how you can strengthen your ties to the community. One of the best ways you can make new friends and reduce social isolation is by volunteering locally! Whether you’re outgoing or are shy and find it difficult to meet new people, you will be able to mix with others who share your interests and values, which in turn will make it easier for you to integrate into your neighbourhood and provide you with a broader support network. There’s no shortage of fun and fulfilling voluntary activities in London and the UK, so don’t wait – get started today.

2. It’s good for your mind and body

Volunteering has long-term positive effects on both your mental and physical health. The National Centre of Volunteering conducted a study on the benefits of volunteering on mental health and what they found was incredible. 80% of participants reported a positive effect on their mental health and wellbeing through providing structure, a sense of purpose and improved confidence and self-esteem. 

If you’re feeling the effects of stress and anxiety, volunteering with animals or outdoors is a brilliant way to combat these feelings and reconnect with nature. Studies show that immersing yourself in a natural environment has a positive impact on your mental and physical wellbeing, is inherently rewarding and calms the nervous system. Ultimately, this helps to generate a higher degree of openness, connection and generosity towards others! Volunteering with the National Trust or the Dogs Trust are great gateways to getting yourself outside and being at one with planet Earth.   

If you’d really like to get active and give back at the same time, check out Good Gym. With plenty of fun, volunteering activities to get involved in, it’s the perfect place to get started!

3. It can advance your career

Another aspect of volunteering is that it can help you to gain experience in your area of interest and even meet new contacts who could help you. Volunteer work may be unpaid but that is not an indication of the value in the skills that you will take away. Many voluntary programmes offer extensive training, and most will give you the opportunity to practice all-important workplace skills such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving and project planning. Putting these to good use in the voluntary field might mean that you have more confidence to be able to put them into practice in your work life! 

If you’re considering a new career, volunteering can also help you try before you buy. Without making a long-term commitment, you can test the waters to figure out whether or not it’s the right option for you. 

4. It brings fun and fulfilment to your life

To get the most out of your volunteering, consider your goals and interests. For instance, do you want to: 

  • Meet new people
  • Try something new
  • Do something good in your spare time
  • Find new things to do in London
  • Help the community you live in
  • Work with adults, children, animals or from home

Your experience will be all the richer if you feel excited and motivated by the field. Keeping passion and positivity in mind is the most important thing where volunteering is concerned. Yes, you’ll be learning new skills, but it’s not critical to a fun and fulfilling volunteering experience. Many people like to volunteer outside of work to make time for hobbies they love doing! For example, if your 9-5 desk job doesn’t allow for much time spent out in the fresh air, you may like to volunteer one day a week helping to plant a community garden.

5. You’re helping others

Researchers have found through measuring hormones and brain activity, that the simple act of helping another person results in feelings of happiness. The concept is simple: as humans, we are hard-wired to be generous to others, and so the higher the level of generosity, the happier we’ll then feel. Through volunteering, you are directly helping others and the community, giving you a natural sense of achievement, pride and identity. If you feel better in yourself, you’ll naturally develop a more optimistic perspective on life and your own future. 

We’ve discussed just a handful of ways that volunteering can positively impact your life, but there are hundreds of happy outcomes that can be personal to you.

To read more about how volunteering and guardianship go together, check out our property guardian’s volunteering stories here along with tips to get started.