The Science Behind Why Volunteering Feels So Great

More motivation to get giving.

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Perhaps you’ve experienced firsthand how good it feels to do good. But as Joanne Fritz writes for The Balance, there’s actually a host of mental and physical health benefits that come with volunteering, which is all the more reason to give a little. (Or a lot.)

Fritz points to 15 ways that volunteering can help our overall well-being, and her findings are worth a closer read, but here are a few especially notable benefits:

It can help you find connection:

Fritz cites data from the Campaign to End Loneliness that reveals how almost 45 percent of people in the US and UK report feeling lonely. Many volunteer opportunities include socializing, either with those in need or fellow volunteers. In addition to helping remedy isolation, that social connection could potentially improve your brain health and decrease depression, according to Psychology Today.

It can boost your self-esteem:

Fritz writes that when people, especially younger adults, volunteer, they can increase their self confidence. Fritz points to an article on U.S. News that quoted Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota: “People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness,” he said.

It can keep you fit:

Volunteering could be an unexpected way to incorporate some movement into your routine, Fritz writes in The Balance. But even if your organization of choice isn’t a highly energetic one, giving may make you more likely to consider your own well-being. Fritz points to an Atlantic article about the power of altruism, which states that generally, people who volunteer may be more cautious in terms of taking care of their health.

While volunteering is often thought to be something you do without expecting anything in return, these findings underscore the benefits of giving for everyone involved.

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