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While in school, many children are encouraged, and sometimes even required, to spend time volunteering. It is said that volunteering can contribute to educational and occupational development by helping the youth explore their identity and more of the world. However, the benefits of volunteering throughout the stages of life are not as commonly discussed, even though research supports the connection between volunteering, health, and well-being.

The purpose of volunteering is to help others and get back, but the undeniable truth is that the volunteer is also rewarded for their actions, such as through increased mental benefits. Doing good deeds helps relieve stress and anxiety, as well as help foster happiness. Learning of ways to control anxiety and stress and promote happiness are vital skills to have and strengthen throughout life’s course. Volunteering is a surefire way to create that “good feeling.”

By providing a common interest and the chance to share skills and experience, volunteering offers social opportunities. After schooling is finished, it can seem a bit difficult to find new people to interact with and befriend. Volunteering can act as a segue through offering the chance to meet others with similar interests, passions, and dedication to an organization or cause.

Volunteering also provides the possibility of meaningful engagement and a sense of life. It allows people to form new relationships with others that they may not have met any other way; these can often be life-changing for the volunteer, as they learn new perspectives and gain an understanding of different circumstances and issues facing other races, ethnicities, and cultures. Finding a community or organization that someone is passionate about helps raise self-esteem and confidence, offers a sense of belonging, and even accountability. When things at work don’t seem to be going so well, volunteering at a soup kitchen or shelter might just be the humbling experience needed to achieve a new outlook on life.

No matter what is your motivation, volunteering is beneficial to the volunteer as well as the community. Find your passion, build your skills, network, and embrace making a difference. It could mean a happier, more focused life-view for years to come.