Why you need to volunteer

When you volunteer, do you feel good? Unless you’re doing required or mandated community service, the answer is probably yes. You are able to make a connection with someone else and foster a relationship. You feel good and accomplished, making your body produce endorphins. Even if you were having a long/busy day and weren’t sure if you could make it out to do service, looking for excuses not to go, once it’s over, you’re happy that you did. This feeling isn’t just psychological. Studies show that doing community service helps you live longer. Here are some of the benefits of helping others:

1. It helps you overcome stress. By reaching out to a stranger, you become vulnerable. In becoming vulnerable, your body releases oxytocin or the “compassion hormone,” which helps decrease stress. Oxytocin helps your body in several other ways. It helps cells repair themselves, store nutrients, and grow. So even if you’re working with someone who is sick, your body is working in your favor to repair itself.

2. Your brain produces dopamine and sometimes serotonin, both of which help treat depression. Most people experience feelings of peace, serenity and tranquility after serving others for a couple of hours. Even if you are experiencing mild depression, helping others will ultimately help you.

3. You salivate slightly more than usual, producing immunoglobullin A, which helps fight cavities. But please, still brush your teeth.

So whether you are doing service because you feel connected to a cause, through a moral obligation, or simply because you enjoy doing it, you are benefiting society and yourself. How is that for karma?

Have you tried to learn something new now that you’re older? Was it harder than you imagined it would be?

Imagine all the things in your life that would be harder if you couldn’t read.

Now, you might not be able to relate directly to illiteracy, but you can relate to the struggle of learning something new. The best person to help someone with a problem is someone who has also been there. You can reach out and help an adult learn.  Find your local literacy organization and reach out today.

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