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The Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering

Article by Lani.
Everyone knows that volunteering does great things for the people you’re helping, and some people know that it’s good for you, too. But did you know that volunteering can actually be a great way to reduce anxiety and depression? Studies have shown that even a few hours of volunteering can improve your overall mood and outlook on life.
Read below for our top 5 ways volunteering can benefit your mental health.

Gives you a purpose
Volunteering can help you to find new meaning and direction in your life. By involving yourself with an organisation like Habitat for Humanity, you’ll be helping people to create a stable, secure home – and there’s no better feeling than knowing that what you’ve done could change someone’s life for the better.
Volunteering can also be lots of fun – you can share your skills with others and learn new things. It can break up your week a little too and can help to create a better work-life balance to get the most out of every day. When you start to volunteer your time, it’s likely you’ll feel a sense of fulfilment, which is a great protective factor against mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

You’re part of a community

Did you know that there is more than 4,000 people who are part of our volunteering community at Habitat for Humanity? When you volunteer, you’ll meet plenty of new people which can help you to feel more connected and valued – not only that, but studies show that volunteering can also help to combat stress, loneliness, social isolation, and depression.

Volunteering connects us. When you give up your own time, along with others as you work towards a common goal – it’s hard to feel lonely. One of our amazing volunteers, Carly, told us how much she loves volunteering for Habitat. She’s been involved with our Brush with Kindness programs since mid-2019 and has more recently helped out with bushfire recovery. Here’s what she said:

“You meet all these great people, the volunteers and the family we are helping, and just being outside for the day, doing a real day’s work is like therapy, both physical and mental. I’d rather do this than sitting in my apartment, on the computer working from home.”

Builds self-esteem

Helping others tells you that you’re making a difference in the world, and this can be a great thing to help increase your self-esteem. Volunteering gives you have a sense of meaning and purpose, and can increase your confidence, pride, and identity. Many monks believe that the pillars of service, like volunteering your time, can make our lives better in many ways. When you volunteer, you’ll also get to practice your social skills with lots of different people in a low-risk, enjoyable and non-judgemental environment. After a bit of practice, you’re sure to feel more confident, and this improved self-esteem can be a great protective factor for your mental health.

Rozza from Western Australia told us how happy and grateful he is to be a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. And one of the main personal benefits? The ability to be yourself, share a common goal with families in need, and bringing joy into people’s lives. Here’s what he had to say after a week of volunteering with our Rock the House program:
“A thought shared with fellow volunteers was the fact we were going to help families in need, yet we soon discovered over the week, they helped us in many ways – extending kindness, a gentle spirit, deep humility and engaging smiles. It was an incredible journey for us all, to work alongside wonderful families.”

Amplifies your gratitude

When you start volunteering, you’ll likely feel a greater sense of gratitude for all that you have. One of our star volunteers, Dave, has participated in over 100 volunteer days – he is a pivotal part of our volunteering program, and the work he does helps hundreds of families to feel empowered and more safe in a stable home. Dave always feels a great sense of accomplishment after walking away from a long day of volunteering, and Habitat helps him to remain grateful for everything he has.

“We’ve got a warm bed every night we go home to. We’ve got painted walls, a roof that doesn’t leak. A lot of people don’t have that, more than we think. So, I think for the women and children coming from their previous traumatic conditions, a safe home is everything. Home is a sanctuary and a place of safety, but in a lot of cases, we are all guilty of taking it for granted.”

Increases your compassion

When you volunteer, you see that the world needs what you have to offer. Studies show that helping others and having a compassionate goal to make the world a better place can actually protect us from experiencing the symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to Healthdirect Australia, people who are kind and compassionate are also more satisfied with their lives, leading to better mental health.

Even just a few hours of volunteer work can improve your mood and outlook, while regular volunteering is associated with better overall mental health. The experience of helping others can give people a greater sense of self-worth, a social role, and improved health. The act of giving activates the pleasure centre in your brain – and this can have some pretty great unexpected benefits; it improves your ability to build healthy relationships, makes your immune system stronger, and can even lead to a longer life expectancy.

Want to begin your volunteer journey? Click here to start now: