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5 Ways Volunteering Can Help Your Mental Health

Have you ever thought about volunteering? There are plenty of great reasons to volunteer, but did you consider the benefits it can have on you? This Volunteers Week (1-7 June), we look at the health benefits of volunteering.

This article is also available in Welsh. I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg – clicia yma

For young people, it’s never been more important to have good mental health. Building resilience is crucial for protecting our mental health. Volunteering can play a huge role in developing our skills, experiences, and, most importantly, our own sense of well-being.

Volunteering means offering some of your time, skills, and energy to individuals or an organisation without expecting anything in return. Not expecting anything back for your time can have unexpected benefits like a sense of meaning, building trust and gratitude, and positively impacting mental health and resilience. It gives you a chance to positively impact your community and is a great way to feel good about yourself.

Here are some of the ways volunteering can help you feel healthier, happier, and able to face some of the challenges that life brings: 

Calm man with closed eyes and crossed legs meditating in yoga lotus posture for Volunteering and Mental Health blog

1. Body and mind 

Volunteering often means a change of scenery. It gets you moving and thinking at the same time and provides several benefits to your mental and physical health. Regular physical exercise and mental stimulation are really important for your well-being. Volunteering is a great way to achieve both. 

Young anxious worried girl looking stressed and nervous with hands on mouth biting nails for Volunteering and Mental Health blog

2. Stress and anxiety

It’s easy to feel stressed in life, but it can become harmful if you’re not careful. Volunteering helps you build new networks and relationships outside your usual social circle. It can help you build resilience to stress and help you manage those anxious thoughts.

3. Depression

Similarly to stress and anxiety, the more you socialise, the bigger your support network becomes. It helps you connect with other people that have the same interests and gives you a sense of purpose and achievement. These have all been shown to help with depression.

Young Muslim woman wearing hijab with big smile and two thumbs up for Volunteering and Mental Health blog

4. Perspective and gratitude

Gratitude (feeling thankful) is not always the easiest emotion to recognise or express, but it’s important to keep you stable. Volunteering helps you be more social and allows you to see the bigger picture. It will put things into perspective, and you’ll see how others are doing.  

Hands holding heart for Volunteering and Mental Health blog

5. Empathising and caring for others

People who volunteer usually care, and surrounding yourself with people who are willing to help others can help you develop those thoughts and actions yourself. Volunteering gives you good vibes that will help you heal and feel happier.

If this blog has inspired you to think about volunteering, then many opportunities are available to you. They can be one-off events or longer-term commitments and everything in between. There are lots of opportunities to try different things and see what you like best. 

If you’re new to volunteering or already busy and worried you can’t fit it in, think about how much time and energy you can give, and start small. You could even ask a friend or family member to join you if you’re worried about doing it yourself. But even if you do go alone, you’ll usually find it easy to make new friends with like-minded people.

For all the latest volunteering opportunities, check out the Volunteering Wales website. Anyone can volunteer, anytime, for any reason. There are hundreds of organisations across Wales that need volunteers, and a huge variety of different roles and experiences available to you.

Want to talk?

If you need to talk confidentially about anything that’s worrying you, whether that be volunteering or anything else, then Meic is here to listen and offer advice every day between 8am and midnight. Text, Call or chat to us online.