If you are searching for an activity to keep you busy during the university holidays or are considering taking a gap year but do not know what how to keep busy, you should consider volunteering. Not only will you be doing something productive with your free time, but you will also experience other surprising benefits.
Better you, better world
Volunteering allows you to meet new friends and make new contacts, but it also allows your mind and body to grow, in that volunteering increases self-confidence and wards off depression. You will also be exposing yourself to world issues, such as malaria epidemics in Mozambique and cholera in Kinshasa.
The sensation of giving back to a cause that is close to your heart can make you feel happy and can improve your quality of life. This feeling will encourage you to continue volunteering and giving to charity, in turn helping to better the world. Volunteering is often free to do, so you will not be spending money but will be giving the value of your time and effort to an organisation that really needs it.
Volunteering connects you to others
While volunteering does allow you to network and meet potential employers, you will also find that it allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Your social skills will improve and your circle of friends will become much bigger than before.
Other volunteers are often like-minded people, which means that you will connect with them on a different level to others. Helping out with the smallest tasks in your community will connect you to others, whether it be helping at your local animal shelter or volunteering at a children’s home. Volunteering is a two-way street, and you will find that helping others often encourages them to help you in return.
It can advance your career
Aside from meeting other like-minded people, you will be able to gain a unique set of skills to put on your CV which may help towards advancing your career. You will learn skills such as teamwork, organisation, communication and problem solving which are highly desirable in any industry.
While volunteering, you may meet someone who owns a company or who works at a company you are interested in. You can speak to them about any open positions while demonstrating the skills you have learnt as a volunteer. Having volunteering listed on your CV will also reflect positively on you and could encourage a potential employer to hire you based on your volunteering experience.
Mind and body effects
When you volunteer, you feel a sense of happiness and fulfilment. This is a positive reaction to giving back to society and interacting with other like-minded individuals. Volunteering can help to combat the effects of stress, anger and anxiety while also aiding in alleviating depression.
Your self-confidence will also improve as you deal with people on a near daily basis, having to think on your feet in difficult situations. The better you feel about yourself, the more positive your outlook on life and your goals will become. Some volunteering projects require a significant amount of labour and movement, which will keep you fit and healthy.
Develop new interests and hobbies
Volunteering for a cause close to your heart can help you to discover new interests and hobbies, and may even show you what your true passion in life is. If you love animals, you may discover dog walking as a hobby that can help bring in extra funds, or you may find that working with children brings about a new found passion for teaching.
Volunteering can help you to decide on a career path too, as some hobbies or interests can turn into paid positions. Hobbies can help to relieve stress and allow you to unwind after a difficult day. This relaxed and fulfilled feeling will carry into your work and help to foster new perspectives for old situations. Expanding your interests can also bring forward new career opportunities.
Experience the world
There are many opportunities for volunteers to travel abroad, such as helping Doctors Without Borders or Greenpeace. You may not have other opportunities to travel, so volunteering can allow you to experience the world in an enriching and rewarding way.
Being able to travel while volunteering will broaden your horizons and allow you to experience different cultures that you may not be exposed to. Your contribution to the cause will stay with you long after your volunteering period is over, as will the experience of seeing a different country.
Help others to help yourself
Volunteering offers numerous benefits, including mental, physical and even spiritual growth for volunteers. You will find yourself feeling happier and more fulfilled after your experience as a volunteer, and having it on your CV can help to improve your career chances immensely. If you have a cause that is close to your heart, volunteering is a great way to contribute to it. Experience the world and help others when you see just how beneficial volunteering can truly be to your mind, body and soul.