“I found camaraderie and laughter. I found healing and closure. I found purpose. I found peace,” said Nevada Army National Guard Soldier Liz Hansen. Liz’s story, featured on Guard Your Health’s website, highlights why volunteering is equally important for both the volunteer and the communities being helped.
Giving back, including volunteering and performing acts of kindness, has been linked to lasting physical and behavioral health benefits. To celebrate National Volunteer Week, Guard Your Health shares four ways that “doing good” can improve your overall health and wellness.
Accomplishment and a sense of purpose are two feelings that directly influence a person’s self-esteem, and volunteering leaves individuals with both. Whether it’s working in a school with kids or helping construct a house, these activities will leave you feeling good about the work you did.
Sense of Community
Service members love the feeling of comradery. It reminds them of training with their unit and spending times with their friends. The same feeling of community is often found through volunteering. Group volunteer opportunities can create a sense of belonging and lifelong friendships, which can boost your emotional health.
“As members of Team Rubicon, we all have a shared culture. Our desire to maintain purpose in our lives after removing the uniform binds us together,” added Air Force veteran and Clay Hunt Fellow Justin Rigdon.
Volunteering is often linked to an increase in happiness and positive vibes because it allows you to focus on something beyond yourself. Certain activities, such as working with animals, have also been known to reduce stress and anxiety.
Upon returning home after Operation Double Trouble in Wimberley, TX, Navy veteran Melanie Williamson reflected, “Sure, I love to put a fubar through a wall, throw debris as hard as I can, and be so sweaty and exhausted at the end of the day I can hardly function. But what I truly love is helping people. The hugs and tearful handshakes break down my rough edges and bring me back to my passion for being a part of the solution.”
Staying active leads to a better quality of life and reduces the risk of health conditions like chronic pain and heart disease. Volunteer opportunities like picking up trash in the park or rebuilding after a natural disaster contribute to your physical fitness. Burning calories never felt so good!
Share your favorite way to volunteer in the comments section below.