Any time of year is a great time to volunteer, but the holidays in particular can also inspire charity work. Not only can it help your community and the individuals within it, but it can also improve your own physical and mental health. According to a report from the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS), people who volunteer tend to have lower mortality rates and less depression later in life compared to those who do not volunteer.
More specifically, older people tend to see more benefit from volunteering than their younger counterparts. For older individuals, volunteering may provide them with physical and social activity, along with a sense of purpose, CNCS says. This is also great news for retirees, as older adults who do community service tend to have greater life satisfaction than those who continue working for pay in their older years.
But this isn’t to say younger people don’t also benefit from helping out. In general, CNCS found that donating time and resources may create more life satisfaction and physical health improvements.
Not surprisingly, health benefits also seem to increase with the amount of volunteering. Research indicates that people who spend a “considerable” amount of time volunteering—whether that’s volunteering a significant number of hours per year or helping multiple organizations—show the most positive health outcomes, CNCS says.
Whether you’re volunteering as an individual or family, the possibilities are endless. This holiday season, consider starting a volunteering tradition together—whether it’s working at a soup kitchen, creating a family gift-wrapping contest with proceeds going to charity, or even planning a volunteer vacation. (Check out these volunteer vacation ideas from Huffington Post, from teaching English abroad to saving animals.)
And even if you’re not formally volunteering, simply lending a helping hand or a listening ear to a friend or family member can also improve your wellbeing. A long-term study found that older married adults who provided support to loved ones had lower rates of mortality five years later than those who didn’t help.
Lastly, remember that as a Health Coach, you’re in a unique position to spread holistic wellness education to others. By teaching others about improving their minds and bodies, you’ll also feel good in the process!
Talk about great motivation to spread kindness and give back every day of the year!
How do you volunteer in your community? Share your story here.