I have invited Marcy Germanotta, communications director for the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast, to blog about volunteering.
There are many ways to reach good mental and physical health. Dieting, exercising and meditation are quick to come to mind. But what about volunteerism? Some may see it as just another stress producer, but for many it can be a way to enrich one’s life and sprinkle it with some fun and laughter. We’re told that “lightening” up is important and that a few belly laughs can do wonders for our heart.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 63 million people performed some kind of volunteer work last year. Of this number, women were more likely than men to volunteer. Individuals between 35-44 years old made up the largest group. Each volunteer donated an average of 52 hours in activities like coaching, teaching, serving food, providing information, general labor, and mentoring. With 28% of the entire population helping others, there must be something to all of this giving.
Studies show that volunteering can play a role in increasing your overall sense of well-being, alleviating chronic pain, and even reducing depression. Volunteer work improves the well-being of individual volunteers because it enhances social support networks. People with strong social support networks have lower premature death rates, less heart disease, and fewer health risk factors. And volunteering puts you into highly social situations, increasing the opportunity for close interpersonal relationships and strengthening a sense of identity. It helps our communities grow strong as well – an extra benefit for all!
So, the next time you’re asked to volunteer. Don’t jump to the NO word – don’t have the time. Like all good things for your health, it might just take some time for good results to happen.
Here’s to your health!