While most people volunteer in order to help others, they’ve likely experienced positive feelings or even a “helper’s high” at the same time. Who volunteered with some regularity lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic. In other words, they had to be volunteering to help others—not to make themselves feel better.Now, a new study has found that volunteering can not only improve the volunteers’ sense of self, but can reduce their risk of mortality.The study, the first meta-analysis to look at the association between volunteering and mortality, was published in the journal Psychology and Aging.
Mental health benefits of volunteering.
Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression. But I was surprised to learn that volunteering has positive implications that go beyond mental health. A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.
Adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. High blood pressure is an important indicator of health because it contributes to heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
The benefits of volunteering
How might volunteering contribute to lower blood pressure? Performing volunteer work could increase physical activity among people who aren’t otherwise very active, says lead study author Rodlescia Sneed, a doctoral candidate in social and health psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. It may also reduce stress. “Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes,” she says.
As with any activity thought to improve health, researchers are trying to identify the specific characteristics of volunteering that provide the greatest benefit.
Quote: "Altruistic volunteering is the real essence of volunteering" - Gaurav Kashyap
Edited By -Gaurav