The BHow Giving Back Can Improve Your Mental Health and Well-being

in #healthlast year

Do you struggle with anxiety, depression, or a host of other mental health issues?

While many people might turn to medication to deal with these symptoms, research suggests that giving back and volunteering can improve your mental health. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that a volunteer activity like tutoring can lower symptoms of depression in those with mild-moderate depression.

Here are some benefits you may experience when you volunteer.

Improved Mental Health

A recent review in Social Science & Medicine found that volunteering is associated with improvements in mental health. This includes higher levels of well-being, decreased levels of depression, and improved self-esteem. It may also lower your risk of suicide and substance abuse.

Enhanced Physical Health

Volunteering also appears to be connected with improved physical health, which has been documented by research in several fields. A 2008 paper published in Preventive Medicine found that volunteering increases exercise and decreases obesity. Another paper published in 2007 in BMC Public Health found that volunteering can reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease. And a 2014 paper from the American Journal of Community Psychology found that volunteering improves psychological well-being in older adults.

Higher Self-Esteem

Research also shows that volunteering is associated with higher self-esteem. A 2013 paper from the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that giving back to others boosts your self-esteem and decreases your feelings of guilt. Another study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science in 2009 found that volunteering is associated with increased positive affect, enhanced personal efficacy, and increased life satisfaction.

Reduced Stress

Perhaps one of the most obvious benefits of volunteering is that it reduces stress. A 2012 paper in the journal Preventive Medicine found that volunteering was associated with less stress and fewer symptoms of anxiety. Other studies have also found that giving back is correlated with reduced stress.

Strengthened Relationships

Another obvious benefit is that volunteering provides a chance to make new friends and develop deeper relationships with those you already know. A 2014 study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that volunteering increased self-perceived social support and closeness to family members and friends.

Improved Lifestyle

Finally, volunteering can be an effective way to improve your lifestyle. For instance, a 2015 paper in the journal Health Psychology found that volunteers are less likely to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes compared to non-volunteers. They also have less sleep deprivation and higher levels of self-efficacy.

So, next time you're struggling with a mental health issue, consider volunteering to help improve your overall mental health and well-being.

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