Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
— Arthur Ashe
5 good reasons to add volunteering to your life.

5 good reasons to add volunteering to your life.

Volunteering is something most think highly of, but many of us never actually make time to do. However, it may be one of the most important things we can do. Here are five good reasons to make some room for volunteering in your life:

Use your skills and talents – or develop new ones.

Volunteering is a wonderful way to use skills and talents that you may not get to use at work. Each of us is multi-faceted, and spending time volunteering can be a great outlet for parts of your personality that you wouldn’t otherwise get to spend time on.

Volunteer work can also push you outside your comfort zone and help you develop skills you may not have previously considered. Volunteering can improve people and conversation skills, and will help you deepen your ability to empathize with others – all important aspects of good leadership. It can also help you develop more practical skills. During my time volunteering in Los Angeles, I ended up tutoring math to adults who needed their GEDs. Before then, I was not a math person. Getting started was a challenge, but looking back, my time tutoring made a bigger impact on me than any other type of volunteer work I did.

Look for ways to volunteer that fit your experience and talents, but don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and do something completely different! It may be the best thing you ever do.

Reduce stress and improve health.

Studies show that volunteering may also be good for your physical and mental health.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study and found that “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.”

Possible reasons for this included increased physical activity and reduced stress levels that may result from volunteer work.

Sometimes the best remedy for stress is to get out of your own head and focus outwardly. Volunteering, especially helping others, will give you a new perspective that just might lower your stress levels and help you develop a healthier outlook.

Make friends.

Volunteering can help you develop long-term friendships with like-minded people. When you volunteer with others that care about the same cause you care about, friendships are bound to develop. Some of the friends I have made while volunteering have become life-long friends who I have remained connected to long after we stopped volunteering together.

It can be challenging to build meaningful friendships as an adult. Volunteering for causes you care about will put you around other people who also care about those causes. If you volunteer regularly, you're bound to build some great friendships!

Impact change.

It’s easy to complain about all of the problems in your city/state/country or the world, but doing something about it isn't. Volunteering for a cause you are passionate about will put you in a position to help create change. If you care about improving inner city education, there are avenues for you to tutor children. If you care about the environment, there are plenty of opportunities to help clean up trash, plant trees or gardens, etc. Whatever you care about, there are hundreds of opportunities within your own community to impact change for good.

The next time you #rant about something, jump online and see if there are any organizations or groups in your area doing something about it. Take what makes you angry or passionate, and choose to become a part of the solution. It's worth it!

Grow as a person.

Volunteering (especially in a human services capacity) has a way of opening our eyes to the needs and our ears to the heartbeat of our communities. When you volunteer, you will see things you did not expect to see, and meet people you did not expect to meet. Because of this, volunteering will inevitably change you. You will gain perspective, a sense of connectedness and a deepened understanding of people whose experiences you otherwise would have no way of relating to.

Volunteering will not only enrich your life but will also enrich the lives of those around you. Through regular, consistent volunteering, you will have the opportunity to affect real, lasting change in your community, and build lifelong friendships in the process.

Don't know where to start?

It can be intimidating finding a good outlet for volunteering. Thankfully, there are many resources and websites to help you find a good fit. Not sure where to start? Try some of these websites:

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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