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The Connection Between Volunteering and Optimal Wellness


We can find ways to improve our health and wellness in ways that we would never think could play a role in this area of our lives. The environment, the food we eat, the amount of exercise we get, and the amount of stress that we incur can all determine our overall health status. If we are eating poorly, spending a lot of time in polluted areas, are stressed because of our job or family, and if we aren't exercising, then the likelihood to develop poor health outcomes increases. The opposite is true for when we are eating well, exercising, practicing stress management, and staying in clean environments.

These are more common health behaviors that we have been able to link to our overall health status. But what about the more abstract behaviors? How can we get creative with our health and wellness?

Some researchers have linked social contributions to our health and wellness. If we are active in the community then we can establish a better outlook on the place around us, as well as feel validated for our contributions. This can improve our mental health, which is a key component of health and wellness.

A study published in the Journal of Health, Society, and Behavior linked the health outcomes of individuals who had participated in any sort of community volunteering and compared them with individuals who were not volunteering. This longitudinal study confirmed that volunteering does in fact boost our health and wellness in a variety of ways. The study also asserted that the consistency in which we volunteer is crucial and the diversity of the volunteering activities we take part in determine the health outcomes we arrive at. Social integration and increased feelings of self-worth were two main characteristics that lead to improved mental health and thus improved overall health and wellness.

If you feel that you are eating right, exercising enough, and remaining in healthy environments but are not getting the desired health outcomes, consider volunteering in any capacity. It can truly do wonders for your overall wellbeing, particularly mental health. Seek out volunteer opportunities that are meaningful to you, such as tutoring at-risk students or visiting the elderly at health care centers. The amount of health you gain is nothing compared to the happiness you can bring others.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Hajime NAKANO

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