Volunteering is good for you

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The holidays can be a grind for just about anyone. While they’re enjoyable, finding the right gift or pulling off the perfect party can be stressors for some. People are typically juggling work, family and other obligations during the holiday season. Advance planning helps immensely, but doesn’t totally alleviate the holiday stress of more to do and less time to do it all.

That’s why it’s crucial to consider an activity outside oneself: Volunteering. If adding another task to your list sounds daunting, then consider volunteering after the first of the year when schedules are less crammed.

We’re not advocating a certain cause, organization or religion. There are so many great groups doing good we couldn’t begin to highlight just one. The many groups that have recently graced the pages of our newspapers have helped the hungry, provided children with toys and raised money to build homes for those less fortunate. The above examples don’t even begin to scratch the surface. There’s plenty we can do to help others and we certainly don’t want to limit you.

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, there are several health benefits to volunteering.

Key findings in a report titled “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research” show:

• Older volunteers are most likely to receive greater health benefits from volunteering;

• Volunteers must meet a “volunteering threshold” to receive significant benefits, meaning people need to volunteer with two or more organizations and complete 100 hours or more of volunteer activities a year or at least 40 hours of volunteering a year;

• Volunteering leads to a greater life satisfaction and lower rates of depression;

• Volunteering and physical well-being are part of a positive reinforcing cycle;

• Evidence suggests the possibility that the best way to prevent poor health in the future, which could be a barrier to volunteering, is to volunteer;

• Individuals who volunteer life longer, as lower mortality rates were reported among people who volunteered during the first wave of the survey;

• State volunteer rates are strongly connected with the physical health of the states’ population.

As we rush to the next appointment, it’s a good time to remember we’re part of a bigger cause. Stop for a moment and think of a way you can help others. Then act on it. You won’t be sorry you did.

— Editorial Board

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