Volunteering Is A Great Natural Stress Buster

Stress Relief Techniques

Can volunteering really help you to cope with the stress of every day life? For many of us who have volunteered or are currently volunteering, the answer is emphatically "yes!" For those of you who have never tried it, you may wonder why such volunteers react so favorably. What do the research studies say about volunteering? What physical advantages can you personally enjoy? What types of volunteering are available?

Research says:

University of Michigan in 1990 studied over 1,000 seniors for seven years. The research revealed that seniors that volunteered at least 40 hours a year lived longer.

A very well known book published in 1980, Healing Power of Doing Good, dedicated its contents to showing the benefits of volunteering. Research cited in the book indicates a sense of well being, decreased insomnia, speedier surgical recoveries, improvement in stress-related health problems, and decrease in feelings of depression and pain occur among many that volunteer or show acts of kindness. The same reference talks about a "volunteer's high." This is a euphoric feeling that some get when they volunteer for something they are very passionate about.

In 2004 John Hopkins researchers in a program called Experience Corp in Baltimore studied older adults that volunteered in public schools helping children to read better, checkout books, solve problems, and play cooperatively experienced meaningful improvement in their own physical and mental health.

Physical benefits that help reduce stress when you volunteer:

lower mortality rate
lower levels of depression
decreased levels of despair
post-coronary patients show decrease in despair and depression
less insomnia
overall positive effect on physical and mental health

Volunteering—where do you begin?

Volunteering can refer to giving freely of your time in helping a person, organization, cause or situation. Here is where it gets tricky. Volunteering for the wrong thing could actually increase your stress; something you don't want. So volunteer for something you truly are passionate about or have a great deal of interest in. It should be in the scope of what you physically and mentally can do. That being said, what are some areas you may consider volunteering for?

How about?

tutoring (private or in public schools)
nursing homes
animal shelters
shelters for abused women
favorite charity (or try a new one!)
youth organizations
community projects
sports coaching
soup kitchens for homeless
art galleries or museums
be a big brother or a big sister to someone

Our list could go on and on. Giving of yourself opens up many possibilities. The amount of hours you spend in volunteering will depend on your schedule. Some people may be able to devote more hours than others. So don't compare yourself to others. Do what you can. Pick something you love, keep it simple, and go for it! Remember, "There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving." Yes, volunteer and bust up that nasty stress in your life!

Be sure and check out our other site: Tidbits for Healthy Living for even more healthy ideas.