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Volunteering For Your Health

Sure, it feels great to volunteer, but there are real health benefits to doing so too. Read here to find out what they are.

 

When looking to improve your health, it’s natural to think about going for a run, upping your intake of vegetables, or incorporating meditation into your life. While these are tried and tested ways to lead a healthy lifestyle, allow me to let you in on a little secret…volunteering can also improve your physical, mental, and spiritual health! We all lead busy lives. Finding the time to give back can be a challenge, but by giving even just a little, you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually gain.

 

Find Purpose

Volunteering in your community is one way you can take action on issues that matter to you. So why not make giving back part of your spiritual journey? Whether you’re passionate about cats, human rights, climate change, or youth, Toronto has hundreds of non-profit organizations improving the community for the better. You’ll be surprised how fulfilled you’ll feel when giving back to a cause that aligns with your values and beliefs.

 

Increase Self-esteem

Sometimes day-to-day life can wear us down and impact how we feel about our abilities. By using your skills and experiences to help others, you’ll remind yourself that you’re more than just your day job. I love nature and volunteer as a hike leader for a local hiking club. It’s when I’m out in the woods, introducing people to the outdoors that I feel most alive. The most rewarding volunteer roles are ones that nurture your skills and talents and give you a sense of gratification.

 

Lower Stress

The very act of helping others can have a profound impact on your overall psychological well-being. Not only are you able to gain a better understanding of struggles other people face, you’ll also be involved in work that is needed and has a positive effect on your community. This type of exposure can lead to reduced stress, improved mood, and a greater sense of your place in the world.

 

Improve Physical Wellness

Studies show that volunteering can reverse declining brain function, lower blood pressure, and even help you live longer! Surprising right? This is because volunteering often involves being mentally stimulated and physically active, both of which we know are positive steps to feeling healthier.

 

Reduce Social Isolation

Many roles involve working directly with the organization’s clients or with other volunteers, such as visiting seniors, teaching English, or mentoring newcomers. You’ll interact with individuals from all walks of life and it’s common for volunteers to make friends in the process. I spent two years volunteering for a youth recreation program at St. Felix Centre in downtown Toronto. My fellow volunteers became my close friends and just last year I was the Best Woman when one of them got married!

 

Camara Chambers is the Executive Director of Volunteer Toronto, a charity that connects volunteers to the causes that need them. www.volunteertoronto.ca

She volunteers leading hikes for the Toronto Bruce Trail Club and is an aerial yoga enthusiast.