It's no secret that helping others is one of the best ways you can help yourself. We recommend nothing more than giving as much of yourself as you can to your friends and family, but it's even more worthwhile to leave your comfort zone and take it to the next level. Becoming a volunteer is the way to do this - not only will you be able to use the skills you have but you'll learn a few more and have a memorable experience to boot.
The stats tell all: The University of Adelaide recently found that volunteering is worth more than $200 billion a year for Australians - more than the mining industry! With over 6.4 million people volunteering their time it's shouldn't be a surprise. Why not add your name to the list?
Not only will you give back to the community but you'll get the natural high that helping others is proven to do good for you. There are countless studies revealing the positive changes in brain chemicals that result from actions of goodwill. Researchers from the University of Basel sum it up when they say “people who volunteer frequently are more likely to report greater life satisfaction than non-volunteers"
So here's how to start:
Find an organisation
The first thing to do is find an organisation to work with and one you'll be passionate about. An established organisation will help you make a commitment and provide you with some structure giving you a sense of direction in your work.
With so many organisations out there offering so many ways to volunteer you should be able to find something you can relate to or where your skills are useful be it helping at an animal shelter or cooking for the homeless.
Make a commitment
This is the challenging part and ultimately the most rewarding. Taking time out of your week on a regular basis will have a far more lasting impact than doing it one-off and give you the opportunity to strike up relationships. It's important to remember that it won't be an easy exercise - and it shouldn't be. Making a connection with people you wouldn't otherwise meet might be difficult, but going outside your comfort zone will only be rewarding in the long run. You might strike up a friendship with residents at a nursing home, or watch the difficult child who you tutor gradually come to appreciate your help. The hard yards are worth it for these moments!
So get online and ask around to find something you're interested in - Volunteering Australia is a great place to start. Become one of the 6.4 million who enjoys the benefits of volunteering and give yourself the opportunity to do something each week that you can be proud of. There's nothing to it but to do it!
Written by Jack Rothery