Confirmed - Volunteering Is Good for You
9 October 2012 at 9:54 am
A new study has shown that volunteering is good for you. Photo: ubalancer.com
A US study has confirmed what Australian volunteers have known for some time – that ‘giving’ during the holidays, or at any time, not only helps others but helps volunteers to lead to a happier and healthier life.
This is conclusion by Dr Stephen Post a Professor of Preventive Medicine, at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and is based on a review of scientific and medical studies covering several decades on the benefits experienced by individuals who act sincerely for the benefit of others.
Dr. Post’s findings are detailed in the online edition of the World Health Organization’s The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine.
Dr. Post has studied the benefits and links between altruism, compassion, happiness, healing and health for nearly two decades. In “It’s good to be good: 2011 5th annual scientific report on health, happiness and helping others,” he points out that happiness, health and even longevity are benefits that have been reported in more than 50 investigations using a variety of methodologies.
“In total, the research on the benefits of giving is extremely powerful, to the point that suggests healthcare professionals should consider recommending such activities to patients,” Dr. Post said.
“However, there is a caveat in that we need to balance our lives and should know our limitations when giving of our time and self to others, as overdoing may affect us negatively.”
Dr. Post points out that remarkably, in a recent national survey of 4,582 American adults, 41 percent of Americans volunteered an average of two hours per week; 68 percent of volunteers agree that volunteering “has made me feel physically healthier”; and 96 percent say volunteering “makes people happier.”
In addition, the survey results indicated that volunteers have less trouble sleeping, less anxiety, and better friendships and social networks.
“If you could create a pill with the same results as indicated by the survey of American volunteers, it would be a best seller overnight,” Dr. Post said.
Some of the recurring concepts related to giving and health based on the review of the results of scientific studies include:
- Giving and even just thinking about giving in a spirit of generosity are linked to health and well-being.
- People who think too much about themselves and their own desires – or their own troubles – are not very happy.
- Helping is also a form of self-help when the giver has experienced the same problems as those receiving.
- Volunteerism has positive impacts on happiness, mood, self-esteem, physical and mental health.
- Giving can be a lifelong benefit for those who start young.
- Altruism is associated with a substantial reduction in mortality rates and is linked to longevity.
“After examining the many studies it is difficult to dismiss the idea that it’s good to be good,” emphasizes Dr. Post. “The right ‘dose’ of good will varies from person to person and there is no detailed prescription for everyone, but the principle can at least be established scientifically.”
National surveys by Volunteering Australia in recent years have highlighted the health and social inclusion benefits of volunteering. https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2012/03/volunteers-%E2%80%9Csatisfied%E2%80%9D-more-are-needed-report