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Does Volunteering Improve Your Mental Health?

By Pam Dewey and Sarah Laulunen-Raj, Fraser volunteer and corporate engagement coordinator • volunteer, volunteers, volunteering opportunities, volunteering, volunteering and mental health, volunteering and loneliness, volunteering and social isolation, volunteering safely, volunteering during the pandemic, volunteering and broadening our social networks, • February 03, 2022

People are drawn to volunteering as a way to give back to their community, but volunteering can make you feel good too.

The New York Times states, “Something as simple as volunteering can improve our health, ease feelings of loneliness and broaden our social networks, studies suggest.” Though many volunteer opportunities shut down during the beginning of the pandemic, organizations have now figured out ways to keep both volunteers and staff safe, while they support their community.

Eases loneliness

When you volunteer your time, you usually participate in an activity with other people. But even if you’re doing something like delivering meals alone, you meet people one-on-one and increase your social circle. The New York Times states, “In a study of 10,000 volunteers in Britain, about two-thirds agreed that their volunteering had helped them feel less isolated, particularly those ages 18 to 34.” For people who may live alone or are introverts, this social interaction can be incredibly important.

May broaden your worldview   

Mayo Clinic also states, “Dedicating time as a volunteer helps expand your social network and practice social skills with others.” When you volunteer, you meet new people. Not only does that help you feel less lonely, you’re also exposed to different types of people and viewpoints.

“When we only surround ourselves with those with the same beliefs, it’s easy to become more divided from people who see things differently. Volunteering offers an opportunity to learn about different cultures, values and opinions while working together for the greater good,” says Sarah Laulunen-Raj, Fraser volunteer and corporate engagement coordinator.

Can reduce stress

Volunteering can also combat the negative impact of stress. According to Mayo Clinic, “Volunteering reduces stress and increases positive, relaxed feelings by releasing dopamine.” So when you do encounter stress in your life, the good feelings you get from volunteering, like gratitude and a sense of purpose, will help buoy you and make it easier to rebound from stressors.

Keeps you physically active

There are many ways you can volunteer your time. Maybe you want to help build houses, serve meals or help in a school classroom. All these activities get you out of the house and help you keep active. Staying active is good for your physical health, and as we know, mental health and physical health are closely linked. Exercise also releases body chemicals like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, which increase good feelings in your body.

Volunteering lets you do something good for someone else, helps ease loneliness, broadens your worldview, reduces stress and helps keep you physically active. Fraser offers volunteering at all skill levels and with various physical accommodations. For one-on-one or small settings opportunities, you can volunteer at Fraser Community Living homes and apartments and create a movie night, lead a light exercise activity or simply visit with an individual. If you want to help with events either as an individual or a corporate group, you can volunteer at the Fraser Gala, the Tee off for Fraser golf event or the Fraser Festival for Autism. For volunteers who would like to use their specific skills, the Fraser volunteer team will find a way to match your talent with a way to meet real needs at Fraser. For all volunteer opportunities, please reach out to