Helping other people feels good, but did you know it does you good too? Here at Lime, we think it’s a fundamental part of being human – caring for those around us and giving back to the communities we live in. We were surprised to learn just how many benefits there are to doing good for the giver as well as the receiver, here’s what we discovered…
Turns out, we are a nation that cares. According to a recent government survey, almost a quarter of British adults do some kind of voluntary work on a monthly basis. At the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, more than 10 million people volunteered to support their community and help the most vulnerable members of our society. In March 2020, the NHS Volunteer Response Service was inundated with more than 750,000 applicants, to the point they had to pause recruitment! And of course, that’s not forgetting all the millions of key workers who continued to get up, go out and do their jobs to keep the country moving as safely as possible.
Of course, no one is doing this for the benefit of their health, but there are actually health benefits to doing good. For example, there is a strong link between volunteering and improved mental health and wellbeing. Helping other people releases endorphins which are strong naturally-produced painkillers, similar to morphine, that, put simply, make us feel happy! Many studies have shown a link between voluntary work and reduced risk of depression and anxiety! There is also evidence to suggest that volunteering can boost your self-esteem, which of course will also help put you in a better mood!
What about physical health? Surprisingly, research suggests that those who volunteer report better physical health. In particular, there seems to be a connection between regularly volunteering and lower stress levels, lower blood pressure and ultimately even a longer life! That might sound incredible, but it’s true! A study in the USA from the University of California, Berkeley, found that people who were 55 and older who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t volunteer — even when things like age, exercise, general health and smoking habits were taken into account!
If you’re the kind of person who regularly puts yourself out for others it can be hard to find time to look after your own health. Strangely enough, it seems that by helping other people you are already taking a step towards better health, which is good, because it’s people like you that make the world an all-round nicer place to live.