There’s no doubt that volunteering can make you feel good—and help out a good cause at the same time.
The practice can also have deeper personal benefit: Scientific American notes the inherent value of volunteering as a way to combat loneliness, which can help ward off related physical and mental health risks such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and depression.
The magazine cites a recent survey in the United Kingdom that found two thirds of respondents said volunteering helped them feel less isolated.
Similarly, a 2018 study examined United States widows who, unsurprisingly, felt lonelier than married adults. But two or more hours of weekly volunteering helped their average level of loneliness subside to match that of married adults, researchers concluded.
The benefits are threefold. First, writer Kasley Killam notes, the act of volunteering can double as a social outlet for meeting new people, a possible conduit for deeper friendship. It may also provide a sense of purpose and belonging—deficits known to fuel loneliness. And the events stimulate conversation and physical tasks that help older participants fight cognitive decline.
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