There are many things you can do to boost your mental health, like reading a book, exercising and spending time with family. Something you may not have thought of that’s free and has many options is volunteering. Although volunteering is often seen as something people do to help others, it can help you just as much.

Connect with others

A lot of times, spending too much time alone or in the same routine can leave you feeling down or lonely. Volunteering is a way to help those in your community, but it’s also a way to meet and connect with others. People of all different backgrounds and lifestyles volunteer, which means you’ll probably meet someone you may not have otherwise.

If you have a hard time in social settings, getting involved with organizations of any kind means you'll be in a positive environment to help get you out of your shell.

Boost your self-esteem

Connecting with others has a wide range of benefits beyond making new friends or finding a support system. Volunteering for the first time or with a new organization also means stepping out of your comfort zone. Doing so will boost your self-esteem and help you see yourself in a more positive light, while also giving you the confidence to meet new people and try new things. 

Find your purpose

Feeling like you have a new purpose in life can really boost your mental health, especially if you’re feeling hopeless or wondering about your place in the world. Helping others will give you a sense of purpose — you’ll be more active, find new ways to help and feel more productive. By volunteering in different roles, you may also find a new interest or passion that you never knew you had before.

Relieve stress

The stresses of everyday life can have a negative impact on your mental health. Volunteering is a great way to engage your mind in something other than your daily worries. Here are some volunteer tasks that may be especially rewarding:

  • Delivering food or care packages to those in need
  • Spending time with shelter animals
  • Bringing beauty to your community by planting flowers or cleaning up a park
  • Playing music for special needs children or the elderly in retirement homes
  • Teaching free outdoor yoga classes

Think about what you like to do and are interested in, and then apply it as a volunteer skill.  

Add to your resume

Volunteering can also show future employers or schools that you’re staying active outside of work and like to learn. It allows you to practice valuable life skills such as empathy, working with a team, problem-solving and so much more. Developing these skills helps now, but being able to talk about what you’ve learned and gained from volunteering will be a great feeling for years to come.

Getting involved with your community provides the instant gratification of helping others and a boost to your mental health over the long run. Finding out where and how to volunteer in your community is as simple as doing a quick online search. Whether you’re feeling down or simply want to keep your positive spirit going, get involved in your community. Your mind and body will thank you for it.