How volunteering affects our wellbeing
Scientists of Ghent University (Belgium) studied data of more than 40,000 Europeans regarding 3 criteria:
- participation in voluntary work
- employment and income
They found out that volunteers are generally healthier than people who are not involved in charity work.
In fact, volunteers’ health is on par with people who are 5 years younger.
Also, charity activists enjoy a higher income. According to scientists, this may be linked with health indicators — the healthier we are, the more work we can do.
3 additional explanations
The researchers offer 3 more reasons explaining how helping others improves our own lives.
- Volunteering boosts our mental health by making us feel better about ourselves. Non-profit work positively affects our social skills and ability to empathize. Both these things positively affect one’s well-being.
- Charitable work increases physical and intellectual activity, which prevents us from mental decline usually connected with an advanced age.
- Neuroscience research demonstrated that helping others is associated with production of oxytocin and progesterone, hormones that are involved in regulation of stress and inflammation. We reported earlier that caring people live longer.
The results of the study are based on data from the sociological survey of Europeans in 2012 and 2013. The survey was conducted to record beliefs, preferences and behavioral characteristics of more than 40 thousand citizens of 29 European countries.
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