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Opinion

Health and Wellness Benefits of Volunteering

(BPT) – In the business world, we hear a lot about the bottom line and quarterly reports. For those in the nonprofit sector, it’s often a matter of reaching fundraising goals and achieving their mission statement. No matter what kind of organization you work for, there are big-picture goals, but of course there are more.

Increasingly, companies are realizing that part of this big picture is giving their employees the opportunity to volunteer for worthy causes, even paying them to do so. These efforts can lead to some serious collective gains. For example, according to The Health of America – Community Investment Report, employees from the 36 independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies volunteered more than 400,000 hours and donated over $11 million in 2016 alone.

Individual efforts really do add up. Whatever program your employer has in place, here are some of the enormous personal benefits that come with volunteering.

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Productivity. Many would like to volunteer but just don’t have the time. Who doesn’t want to take a little time off and get away from their busy lifestyle and just relax? In a way, volunteering can help you do just that. According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, helping or giving your time to others can make you feel like you have more time, and in turn, make you a more productive worker.

Health. Many studies have found that people who regularly volunteer tend to lead healthier lives and have a reduced risk of heart disease. The jury is still out as to why exactly this is, but giving back to others seems to reduce stress, build confidence and increase a person’s sense of satisfaction. These psychological factors play an enormous role in our physical health.

While they help create connections and build community, volunteers also get a huge amount of personal benefits from their work. Better health, a sense of satisfaction and joy that comes with helping others are only a few of the reasons why more people are deciding to give their time to others.

Community. In our digital age when everyone is engrossed in their smartphones and seem to be locked in their own world, connecting with others — whether it’s those in need or other volunteers — is more important than ever. This is what happened when BCBS companies spearheaded efforts to improve health care access for the uninsured and under-insured. Volunteers helped at mobile clinics and food banks and with educational programs, making invaluable contributions and connections in their communities.

Family. When their employer gives them the opportunity to take a day or two off to volunteer, many people bring their family along. The reason is simple: coming together to do something for others is an incredible bonding experience and can really strengthen relationships.

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