It’s #InternationalVolunteerDay – How volunteering can improve your mental wellbeing?

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Most people would agree that giving to others is a good thing, however it can also do a lot of good for your own mental wellbeing.

Small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community, can give you a sense of purpose, make you feel happier and more satisfied with life.

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We think of wellbeing in terms of what we have: our income, our home or car, or our job, however it’s our actions and our thoughts that have the biggest impact on mental wellbeing.

Positive mental wellbeing means feeling good about yourself and the world around you and being able to get on with life in the way you want.

Evidence suggests there are 5 steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing:

  • connect.
  • be active.
  • take notice.
  • keep learning.
  • give.

Acts of giving and kindness, small and large, are associated with positive mental wellbeing. Giving to others (give) and co-operating with them can stimulate the reward areas in the brain, creating positive feelings. Helping and working with others can also give us feelings of self-worth and relationships (connecting) also help massively with mental wellbeing.

How can you give more?

Giving can take lots of different forms, from small everyday acts to larger commitments:

  • Say thank you to someone for something they have done for you.
  • Phone a relative or friend who needs support or company.
  • Ask a colleague how they are and really listen to the answer.
  • Arrange a day out for you and a friend or relative.
  • Sign up to a mentoring project, in which you give time and support to someone who’ll benefit from it.
  • Volunteer in your local community, such as helping at a local school, hospital or care home.

With Christmas approaching, people who are socially isolated can often feel more alone, so taking time out of your schedule to spend time with someone would have positive benefits for you both.

By Reece Hobson

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