Volunteering: A Great Way to Fulfill Your New Year’s Resolutions

Volunteering has many benefits.

Photo: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.comVoluntee

Now is the time when everyone is thinking about what they’re going to resolve to do next year. Maybe you want to make more friends. Perhaps you’re looking to get healthier and happier, advance your career, or even have more fun. Did you know volunteering can do all of those things? Let’s take a quick look.

Volunteering connects you to others

Not only do you get to have an impact on your community, by volunteering, you can get to know your community better. One of the best ways to make new friends and find kindred spirits is to join together in a shared activity that matches your interests. It can also broaden your support network and help you connect to resources in your neighborhood or community.

Volunteering also gives you the chance to develop and practice your social skills, which can be really helpful if you’re naturally shy.

Volunteering is good for your mind and body

Among the many benefits of volunteering is that it helps to counteract the effects of stress, anxiety, and anger, all of which can harm both your physical and mental health. Meaningful connections relieve stress, and working with pets has been shown to reduce stress. It also combats depression and, because the brain is hard-wired to feel good when giving to others, volunteering can make you happy.

Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease, and depending on where you volunteer, it could even get you exercising more.

Volunteering can advance your career

When you volunteer, you get the chance to practice important “soft skills” that can benefit your career such as communication, project planning, teamwork, and problem solving. You can also learn new skills ranging from web design to cooking to whatever you can imagine.

If you’re thinking about changing careers, volunteering can help you network with people in your desired field and get experience in your area of interest. You can also use your skills to benefit an organization: If you’re a good writer, why not try your hand at grant writing? If you design and build websites for a living, put your skills to work for your favorite nonprofit.

Most of all, volunteering brings a sense of fun and fulfillment to your life. It can be a relaxing way to get an escape from your day-to-day routine while also helping people. If you like being outdoors, for example, why not volunteer at a community garden or to help rebuild a hiking trail? It can also help you be more creative and motivated, which will carry over into your personal and work life, and it can even help you manage your time better.

What benefits has volunteering had for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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