5 Ways Volunteering Enriches Your Life

In our jam-packed lives, it can seem daunting to carve out time for volunteering, but you may have more time than you think. “Any help makes a difference,” as the Salvation Army says.

Giving to your community can positively affect your career by helping you develop valuable skills, such as project management and communication. Whether you get involved locally at an animal shelter or globally by combining travel with community service, here’s how you’ll benefit from volunteering.

1. You’ll Feel Better

According to Harvard University, a 2016 report showed that people who felt they had a strong sense of purpose in their lives had a lower risk of cardiovascular problems. This notion has also been shown to reduce stress and blood pressure levels, ease chronic pain, and fight loneliness, isolation and mild depression. Finding a meaningful way to spend your time can both relax and energize you, and this positivity will carry over into your work and home life.

2. You’ll Feel More Connected to Your Community

Volunteer work can build your sense of belonging and foster a sense of purpose, pride and achievement. When you contribute to a task, such as raising money for a worthy cause or collecting household goods for a local shelter, you create goodwill. Helping out in your community allows you to interact with diverse people working together toward a common goal.

3. You’ll Develop Skills and Learn New Ones

Leading a committee or running a promotional booth at an event can improve your self-confidence and support your efforts toward a promotion at work. Even better, why not share the talents you’re already proud of with others? Are you handy with a sewing machine? Perhaps a local children’s hospital needs quilts to cheer up young patients. Love to cook? Offer your talents to a homeless shelter.

4. You’ll Look Better to Employers

Because community work requires teamwork, task management and problem solving, time spent volunteering displays these skills, which can be transferred to the workplace. According to a 2016 survey by Deloitte, 92 percent of managers involved in hiring believe employees expand their professional skill set through volunteering. If you’re between jobs and hunting for your next gig, remember that helping a cause you believe in demonstrates drive and initiative. Business News Daily notes that almost 85 percent of managers involved in hiring are willing to overlook negatives when an applicant’s resume includes volunteer work.

5. You Can Peer Down a New Career Path

If you want to change jobs or fields, volunteering is an ideal way to test the waters before taking the leap. After being in charge of other volunteers, you may find that you enjoy training and managing people. Also, by taking on a volunteer role related to your desired job, you’ll likely meet people who work in a similar field, says Monster.

You can greatly improve your life and the lives of your fellow citizens by donating your time, energy and skills to an organization that matches your values. When you balance your job with volunteering, you’ll work harder but you’ll likely feel happier and healthier, too. Get started by visiting a site like VolunteerMatch.org, where you can find a project that suits your lifestyle and interests.

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