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The Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering While in Recovery

mental health benefits of volunteering

In a world so often characterized by hustle and the collision of personal ambitions, the act of volunteering represents atruism and compassion. Beyond its positive societal impact, volunteering offers profound benefits for mental well-being, enriching the lives of both the giver and the receiver. The mental health benefits of volunteering, including the fostering of resilience, purpose, and social connection, can be profound.

What Can Volunteering Do for the Volunteer?

A 2018 study published in the National Library of Medicine, Volunteering and Health Benefits in General Adults: Cumulative Effects and Forms found that participation in “other-oriented” voluntary services resulted in a nearly 9 percent increase in mental health, as well as a 9 percent increase in physical health. Volunteering also offered a 7 percent uptick in life satisfaction and an 11 percent rise in social well-being.

At the same time, volunteering was also cited as the reason for a more than 4 percent decrease in depression. These numbers suggested that “higher participation in voluntary services pertinent to other-oriented volunteering contributes to better health benefits cumulatively.”

None of this comes as much of a surprise to Dr. Trevor Bixler, Vice President of Clinical Services at Northpoint Recovery. Bixler points out that volunteering is a central pillar to the individualized recovery plans of those who enter Northpoint facilities for addiction and mental health recovery.

“We like to think of it as healing through altruism,” Bixler said. “It’s not something we have people dive into in the first weeks of their recovery, but we do want those in recovery to focus on giving back. Every afternoon, there’s some sort of community activity. There’s great purpose to it.”

As people in engage in volunteering and other acts of compassion, they often experience a deep transformation within themselves. Read on to learn of the many benefits of volunteering in recovery.

Alleviates Stress and Instills Happiness

The demands of modern life often cause stress and anxiety, challenging one’s mental health. Volunteer work provides a respite from these feelings. When people immerse themselves in service to others, they redirect their focus away from personal worries, experiencing a strong sense of purpose.

Whether it’s tutoring underprivileged children, assisting the elderly, or participating in environmental initiatives, volunteering offers a handy way to find solace in making a positive difference in the world.

Fosters Social Connection

At its core, volunteering is a communal endeavor, bringing people together in pursuit of a common cause. Volunteering makes people feel like they’re connected to their communities and that they’re doing something to actively improve their worlds. Through collaboration, volunteers forge deep and meaningful connections with others, creating a sense of camaraderie and belonging. What comes with that camaraderie and belonging are support, empathy, and understanding.

Whether it’s bonding with fellow volunteers or forming relationships with those being served, the social fabric woven through volunteering can serve as a buffer against feelings of isolation, alienation, and sadness.

Locates Purpose and Meaning

One of the most profound mental health benefits of volunteering lies in its ability to instill a sense of purpose in one’s life. With recovery comes feelings of uncertainty; volunteering instills a sense of direction and significance. By aligning their actions with their values, volunteers derive a profound sense of satisfaction in their everyday lives. Perhaps most importantly, volunteering connects you to something bigger than yourself.

Develops Coping Skills

Life in recovery is rife with challenges and setbacks, testing the resilience of even the most determined individuals. However, engaging in volunteer work equips individuals with the coping skills and resilience needed to navigate life’s ups and downs. Through their experiences in volunteering, individuals learn to adapt to new situations, overcome obstacles, and bounce back from adversity. Whether it’s facing the inherent uncertainties of volunteering itself or drawing strength from the resilience of those they serve, volunteers develop a newfound sense of resilience that serves them well in all aspects of life.

Makes Amends

While it’s not always possible to make things right for things done while in active addiction, volunteering can be a way to make a positive difference in the world. Karmically speaking, it’s the next best thing to righting wrongs made in the past. It can also transform your self-image from someone who once did bad things to someone who is currently doing good.

Boosts Self-Esteem

Volunteering offers numerous opportunities for personal growth and development, contributing to enhanced self-esteem and confidence. By stepping out of their comfort zones and taking on new challenges, volunteers cultivate a sense of competence and accomplishment. Whether it’s mastering a new skill, assuming a leadership role, or simply witnessing the impact of their contributions, individuals gain a newfound belief in their abilities and value. This boost in self-esteem not only improves mental well-being but also spills over into other aspects of life, fostering resilience in the face of adversity.

Learn More About the Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering with Northpoint Recovery

If you’d like to learn more about the mental health benefits of volunteering, Northpoint Colorado has answers. For expert guidance on comprehensive, effective recovery, we’re here for you. Our tailored recovery solutions will kickstart your journey to wellness. Contact us today at 888.231.1281 for further information, or connect with us through our online form.