Why volunteering can benefit your mental health

Volunteering can benefit you and others in so many ways. And you might not realize it can be good for your mental health.

Giving to others not only helps those in need, but it’s good for your mental health too!

“Studies have indicated that volunteering is great for your mental health,” said Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist for Cleveland Clinic. “It has been shown to decrease stress levels, depression, anxiety and boost your overall health and satisfaction with life.”

Albers said when you help other people, it activates the reward center in your brain and releases serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.

That’s why many people often feel better after volunteering.

Some other benefits include meeting new people, getting in some physical activity and developing a deeper sense of purpose and meaning.

It may also give you a new perspective on life.

Albers said volunteering doesn’t always have to be something major, you can do simple gestures like donating food, taking out someone’s trash or shoveling an elderly person’s driveway.

“You can get your entire family involved in volunteering. It is great to role model to children that this is a great way to boost your mental health,” she said. “It’s free. It’s an activity that everyone can do. It doesn’t require a lot of skill or time.”

Albers reminds people to consider the time commitment required before signing up for volunteering.

She also suggests picking something that is meaningful to you.