We all have busy lives, especially when we’re studying, and sometimes it may feel like we have nothing left over to offer to anyone else.  It’s well documented though that when we volunteer to help, not only does it uplift that person or community, it also has great mental and physical benefits for us personally.

Some of these are:

Increasing happiness and self-confidence
Research shows that the more you volunteer, the happier you are likely to be.  Giving back creates a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction that boosts your mood, increases your confidence and adds depth and meaning to your life.

Meeting new people
Getting involved is a good way to make new friends and expose yourself to different types of people.  Practicing improving your social skills can only increase your chances of a happy social and working life, both now and in the future.  Working with others on a common project also helps us feel that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Boosting health
Studies have shown that volunteers have a lower mortality rate and fewer symptoms of chronic pain and heart disease.

Putting things in perspective
When we are helping someone less well off than ourselves in any way, it helps us to see the difficulties we ourselves face in a more balanced way.

Learning new skills
If you volunteer in a field you are interested in, you can practice your work skills and build valuable experience that looks great on your CV.  You will also learn other useful life-skills such as teamwork, problem solving, organisation and communication skills.

Some places to volunteer:

  • If you are involved in a club, group or church, offer to join the committee or help out at functions.
  • If you love to work with children, become a Big Brother or Sister (www.bbbssa.org.za) or try care clowning (www.theup.org.za)
  • If you are patient and enjoy the wisdom of older people, volunteer at your local retirement home.
  • If you care about the environment, join your local environmental or wildlife organisation and help with campaigning and cleaning up natural spaces.

For more ideas, see the Greater Good South Africa site:  www.myggsa.co.za

Image credit:  Daniel Thornton via Flickr

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