It’s better to give than to receive. Perhaps it’s an overused cliché, especially at this time of year. But when it’s related to your health, as well as the benefits of volunteering, there is a lot of truth in the simple statement.
A recent article in WebMD’s November/December issue focuses on the correlation between good health and volunteerism. The author reports that research shows that volunteering is truly good for your health. Statistics gathered from a female volunteer cohort in 1988 showed that 68 percent of volunteers reported a sense of calm after volunteering. In 2013, a survey found that adults engaged in at least 200 hours of service a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure. Meanwhile a National Institutes of Health (NIH) survey of a small sample of people (fewer than 20) experienced increases of dopamine and oxytocin and endorphins when they engaged in face-to-face charitable acts, as well as acts “behind the scenes” like writing a check for an organization. Beyond that, those who volunteer regularly have an improved immune system and are less likely to suffer dementia or battle addiction.
Positive health benefits from volunteering are also realized when people work together as a team, pointing to the fact that these opportunities don’t have to be experienced alone and perhaps could find their place incorporated into corporate wellness programs that seem to be all the rage in recent years. Many corporate wellness programs share similar hallmarks like health screenings and education, support programs that are relevant and accessible, and healthy food options in the employee cafeteria. Some companies have even taken it so far as to provide paid time off for employees engaged in philanthropic efforts.
However you go about incorporating volunteerism into your business, make sure and find ways to provide services that are in line with your product or service. Taken a step further, aligning volunteerism within the company mission and framework sets you on the path toward corporate social responsibility. This is a good idea for a few reasons. First, you are getting involved with something that you are already good at (presumably), which should also logically mean that you will have a volunteer base (your employees) from which to draw that will truly have a passion and sincere desire to help. Perhaps community churches sponsor events around the holidays where your physicians or other medical professionals could donate their time to providing health services free of charge to those less fortunate. Maybe it’s about smaller scale projects that allow a few employees to travel abroad with physicians in order to provide care internationally. Perhaps it could also be about rewarding employees who strive to give back to their communities.
The choice of service if far less important than the determination to be involved with projects that help individuals or groups of employees give back and ultimately receive the health benefit associated with volunteering. Now get out there and do good.