"Volunteering is at the very core of being a human. No one has made it through life without someone else's help." – Heather French Henry

Volunteering is a great way to support other people. Helping others can get you a rush of endorphins, making you feel happier. All it takes is a little bit of compassion and a little bit of your time. No matter how you look at it, one thing is clear; volunteering is good for the world and beneficial for your well-being.

Volunteers today are helping serve communities and helping themselves get better. New age research suggests people who volunteer experience a boost in their mental health. A study in the United Kingdom reviewed data from over 70,000 participants who answered a survey on their mental health, volunteering habits and everyday life. This study was conducted from 1994 to 2014 and published in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2020.

The study compared volunteers to non-volunteers. People with a history of volunteering claimed they were satisfied with their lives and rated their overall health better than others. The study also showed that people who volunteered often reported better mental health than those who volunteered infrequently.

What drives Volunteers?

The question is, does volunteering make people happy, or are happy people more likely to volunteer? Studies proved that people who started volunteering became happier over time. Volunteering is rewarding. Helping others often brings in the 'feel good' factor, also called the 'warm glow.' It also helps build social connections and gives a purpose. Volunteering can help one to build and polish skills like communication, teamwork, leadership and present opportunities at the professional level. 

Benefits of Volunteerism

The core of volunteering has always been how others stand to benefit from your work. There is very little said or discussed how volunteers benefit from this. Here are a few positive things about volunteering.

1. Helps reduce stress

    Our personal and professional lives can be pretty consuming. They come with their own set of challenges and stress. Volunteering can help balance the effects of stress and anxiety and fill you with the joy of giving. It makes us aware and grateful for the opportunities that we have. 

2. Joy of Giving

    Helping people always brings a sense of happiness and joy. The 'warm glow' of giving relaxes the mind and allows one to feel good, which positively affects people's overall health. 

3. Develops Confidence and Helps find Purpose

    Volunteering provides an opportunity to build self-esteem and confidence. As a volunteer, it can help one develop their pride and identity and give them a sense of purpose. Volunteering can be highly beneficial when you feel confused in life. Dedicating time to a cause can give you a new perspective and a great learning experience. It will help create an upbeat vibe and view of life in general. A positive attitude is what is required to feel good and inspired. Accomplishments, big or small, can help get rid of self-doubt and boost self-esteem and confidence. It can help you stay motivated and help you find your way.

4. Social Connects

    Volunteering helps you connect with people. It helps you learn, find opportunities and keeps you grounded. A community of volunteers often helps each other grow and build camaraderie and long-lasting friendships.

5. Helps you Upskill

    Volunteering helps you upskill. Whether it is teamwork or leadership skills, volunteering can help you get better. These life skills can help you build your confidence and make you self-aware, which is extremely important for mental well-being. 

Getting started with volunteering…

It is easy for people to recommend volunteering, but it must also resonate with the person. Finding a cause to support might seem difficult at first. However, try being a part of events and understanding how non-profits work towards their respective causes. See how you can contribute. Not everything is about monetary donations. Take time to know and understand the various aspects of the cause you are supporting. 

You can start by:

1. Looking for causes and identifying what interests you

2. Identifying what skills you have to help your cause

3. Looking for volunteering opportunities around

4. Balance your volunteering, with your other day-to-day activities

5. Staying motivated

Mental health is a sensitive topic that needs to be discussed and talked about. With its mental well-being initiative, organizations like Young Volunteers Organisation (YVO) don't just seek monetary donations but urge people to come forward and volunteer with them.  Mental well-being is as important as physical health. One cannot underestimate the impacts of volunteering. Your volunteering efforts could help you find a support group to reach out to, apart from helping you feel happy and motivated. It will help you make a difference to yourself and the world.

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About Author

Siddharth Ladsariya is a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, angel investor and an enthusiastic mentor. He has been actively investing since 2008 and has invested in over 150 start-ups till date. Siddharth is the Founding Volunteer of Young Volunteers Organisation (YVO), an Indian non-profit organisation that started in 2015. YVO is an organisation that acts as a facilitator between young working professionals and thoroughly researched NGOs, and aims to empower the underprivileged sections of Indian society. Siddharth also founded Everest Fleet Pvt. Ltd., a fleet management company in October 2016, which is now one of the leading players in the fleet market, with a fleet of 3800+ cars, operating in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Hyderabad and is a trusted partner of UBER.

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