Is your life stuck in a rut? Do you feel you could be doing more but aren't sure what you want to do? Why not consider volunteering? Not only will you see the benefits physically, mentally and socially, you'll also be doing your bit for others and that is the sort of experience that no amount of personal career success will ever duplicate!
So if you still aren't sure volunteering is for you, here are 10 reasons why you should be giving back a little bit of time to a worthy cause:
1. It's good for you
Studies have found that when you stop thinking about your own problems and focus on someone other than yourself, your stress levels start to decrease, your immune system is strengthened and your overall sense of life satisfaction increases. This is because helping someone else interrupts tension-producing patterns and replaces it with a sense of purpose, positive emotions and high confidence levels.
2. You can make a difference
Volunteering, at home or abroad, gives you the chance to vote every day about the kind of community and world you want to live in. It gives you the opportunity to be apart of something bigger than yourself and use your civic responsibility for the greater good. Without people who are willing to sacrifice their time and skills to meaningful causes, a lot more people and animals would be worse off.
3. Help boost your career
Did you know volunteering is an excellent way to boost your career prospects? It helps you create a positive impression, makes you more innovative, creative and gives you a range of useful skills. Recent EU research found that recruiters rank volunteer participation higher than personal presentation, political affiliations and spelling and grammar errors when looking at a candidate’s social presence.
4. Improve your skills
It has been very tough to set yourself apart in the bid for a job in recent years but the reality is that most who apply for a job have the same qualifications. What sets you apart is experience. Employers love a candidate with a range of soft skills and luckily, volunteering gives you plenty of those. You are faced with problems on a daily basis, you have to deal with a mix of personalities and all while adjusting to life outside of your comfort zone. This all adds up and helps to improve your teamwork, leadership, problem-solving and people skills.
5. Give something back
We all have causes we believe in. If you feel passionate about something then why not give something back in a very real way by volunteering? Are you concerned about animal welfare, do you worry about the environment or is homelessness something that you want to see become a thing of the past? Well volunteering is the perfect way to not just verbally or financially support that belief, you will be getting out there and actually doing something about something you believe in.
6. See the world
Volunteering abroad allows you to travel with a purpose and isn't that better than simply backpacking your way around the world's pubs! Volunteers get to see places and meet people that are often far off the tourist track, but what would you rather have as your memory of travelling - the same photos and experiences as every other tourist, or one which makes a difference and is unique?
7. Learn a new language
Did you know learning a new language boosts brain power? Or that it develops your ability to multi-task? How about the fact that it stalls the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s? Another reason to volunteer is to learn a new language. By taking the time to learn a country’s language you are opening yourself up to its culture and aiding your self-discovery.
8. Gain a new perspective on life
Volunteering, especially in other countries, changes how you see the world. You come into contact with people on a daily basis from different countries, backgrounds and quality of life. It shows you how much less you can have and still find reasons to be happy. This shift in perspective opens your mind to what is truly important, puts to bed age-old stereotypes and shows you how small your problems are in the grand scheme of things.
9. Looking for some direction in your life or career?
You may have just finished second level education or maybe graduated with a degree which really doesn't give you a defined career path. Life can be very overwhelming and often there is pressure to get out there and get a good job and this can be twice as difficult if you don't really know what you want to do with your life. You can use volunteering as a reason to get out of old routine and help you figure out what your next steps will be when you return home. Taking a break, putting your life into perspective and other people first might inspire an idea or spark an interest. You might come up with ideas on how to improve your own community, or discovered a new life calling.
10. You will make friends
Everything in life is about networking, making connections, forging friendships and relationships and volunteering gives you the perfect opportunity to meet with other like-minded people who will, more than likely, be friends for life. So if you feel you are in a rut or isolated, get out, volunteer and broaden your social circle.