Volunteers make an immeasurable difference in the lives of others. But did you know that snuggling dogs and cats, and other means of volunteering, can actually benefit your health and wellness, too? From lowering stress, to boosting confidence, there are endless rewards in donating your time and skills to others in need. Here are some of the ways giving back to animals can benefit your mental and physical health and function, too:
- Reduced Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression: Not only do animals bring us joy, studies show they actually decrease your blood pressure, a physical measure of stress. You don’t even need to touch them, in fact, just looking is enough. Watching an aquarium full of fish has the same effect. Studies also indicate that animals increase our cardiovascular health and response, having a positive impact on the heart.
Experts have found that helping others reduces stress, which can improve our physical and mental well being alike. In addition to aiding our current status, research indicates that volunteering may even decrease an individual’s risk of illness later on in life.
- Volunteering helps better brain health and function. Volunteering can improve elasticity in our brains, especially those with risk of Alzheimer’s. One study found ‘substantial and clinically meaningful’ improvement in mental function after the subjects had volunteered their time for an academic year.
Depending on the circumstances while volunteering, you may be required to problem-solve, think critically, or even memorize- all important brain exercises for people of all ages. Volunteering often works our bodies, and our minds.
- Volunteering your time helps with confidence building. Individuals volunteering with animal rescue organizations perform a crucial role in helping animals, and the organizations staff. The work that you provide as an animal volunteer is essential to saving lives and to everyday jobs in the facility, which offers a sense of deep purpose.
No matter your passion, there’s likely an organization that feels as passionately about it as you do- so reach out! Through working together with like-minded folks, and providing beneficial assistance to people and animals who need it, you’ll quickly find just how rewarding it is for your sense of purpose and self worth.
- Volunteering inspires others to get involved, too. Perhaps one of the best ways to make new connections, to get inspired, and to inspire others is to participate in a shared activity together. Volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people who share common interests with you, and who also dedicate their time to the cause.
Through your work with animal rescue organizations, you’ll set the stage for a purpose-filled environment that inspires passion from others. Being a volunteer can not only expand your network, but it may inspire friends, family or coworkers to join the cause, too!
- Volunteering your experience helps you build more experience. Volunteering your time and experience helps to build your expertise, and is a fantastic way for professionals to further their trades. Not only do you gain valuable experience in a new field, but it gives you new connections and skills.
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Next Avenue have all published articles featuring the benefits of volunteering and landing your next job. Essentially, volunteering somewhere, such as a non-profit organizations, making job applicants look more appealing to hiring managers.
No matter your passion, there’s likely an organization or group dedicated to it as well. From picking up trash locally to protect wildlife, to supporting the community animal shelter in your area, or volunteering your time to protect endangered ocean animals, there are endless ways to get involved with animals in need near you. Once you get started, you’ll quickly find just how rewarding it can be!
Where to Start Volunteering
With countless organizations in need of support, getting involved is easier than you think. Join the millions of people donating their time to the cause, there truly has never been a better time to get started.
While many organizations put out volunteer pleas during the holidays, these services are (often desperately) needed year round. Consider donating your time to animal rescue organizations in one of the following ways:
- Walk dogs or socialize cats
- Foster an animal for a day, week, or month
- Pick up trash locally which can prevent harm to wildlife and marine environments
- Use photography skills to capture adoption portraits
- Use graphic design skills to make flyers, announcements, and more
- Drive transport for animal shelters
- Volunteer with wildlife watch groups
- Clean cages, do laundry, wash dishes at facilities
- Sew comfortable bedding for the shelter animals
- Use marketing skills to promote non-profit organizations online
- Use carpentry skills to build necessary additions at facilities
- Use your word of mouth and social media to advocate for animals locally
- Hold fundraisers for organizations, or specific animal needs
- Create art to sell at fundraisers
- Collect supplies in your neighborhood to donate to a local animal shelter
…and so many more!
Be creative, and be passionate. You’ll quickly reap the benefits of volunteering, as will the animals and people you’re helping!