Knock-Out Stress Tip #3: Make a Difference!
Did you know that by helping others, you can improve your health and reduce stress? Numerous studies have linked volunteering with improved mental and physical well-being, particularly among older adults. Why? Some studies believe it is the increased sense of purpose volunteering provides while others posit that it is the increased social interaction that creates feelings of self-worth. Whatever the reason, it has been proven that people who are actively involved in volunteerism are often times healthier than individuals who are not.
To get the most out of your volunteering experience, pick a cause that is meaningful to you, and not just a cause that may be convenient or that you are “forced” to be involved in due to pressures from work or other family members. Additionally, research has shown that there is a magic number of volunteer hours that maximizes health benefits . These studies indicate that volunteering between 40-100 hours a year can be most beneficial to health, however it’s important to start with a level that is manageable for you and work your way up to higher levels of involvement to avoid scheduling overload.
 Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development. The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, Washington, DC 2007.