Giving Back Can Improve Your Mental Health

There are likely dozens of groups in your city that would love your expertise. You can improve your mental health while bettering the world.

We all know that volunteer activities can be good for the soul. Now we know that good works can also improve your mental health. A new study shows that giving back to the community also can give middle-age and older adults measurable health benefits.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Birmingham in the U.K., found that people in groups who spent time volunteering had higher mental health scores than those who didn’t. The researchers surmised that volunteering can widen social networks and provide a sense of purpose, especially for folks in retirement.

Interestingly, the benefits are less apparent in younger people — perhaps because they aren’t as likely to lack social activity and purpose.

Ways to Volunteer

Give short periods of time at an animal rescue and help feed, socialize and walk dogs. Cats will also accept snuggles and treats while you improve your mental health volunteering.Find groups in your town that do charitable work and offer your time. Common volunteer opportunities include reading to children or tutoring, helping at a soup kitchen, or even gardening. 

Another way to improve your mental health as well as physical health is having a pet. Don’t feel like tending to a pet full time? No problem. Volunteer when it fits your schedule at animal rescues. They always need help feeding, and walking dogs or snuggling and playing with cats. 

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