Sometimes we search so hard for a solution to our problems that we ignore the simple answers staring us right in the face. Obesity, depression, anxiety…all three exist at extraordinarily large numbers. They have become unbearable burdens on our society and on our individual selves. Yet, the solution to a world that seems to have lost its sense of community, its sense of health and even its sense of mind lies in one of the most obvious, simple and affordable means. Volunteer. It’s free, easy and recent research shows it provides numerous health benefits while also adding years onto your life. Altruism, concern for others and a want to do good, is a part of human nature. You don’t need a prescription or a health plan. All you need is a little time and a big heart.
The Corporation for National and Community Services reports a direct correlation between states with high volunteer rates and a resulting lower rate of mortality and heart disease. And volunteering provides you with a boost in oxytocin, the feel good chemical that can help elevate your spirit and your mind. Stephen Post, the director of the Institute of Unlimited Love at Case Western University links volunteering with the feel good hormone oxytocin, countering the negative depression related hormones, cortisol and epinephrine. Letting your mind be weighed down with your own worries only deepens depression. Volunteering provides the opportunity to evaluate your own blessings and give back to those in need. Sharing a little time and compassion within your community can add years to your life and dramatically improve the lives of those your volunteering touches. Give altruism a chance and see how your do-good attitude improves your way of life.