Negative events have affected many of us. On top of that, the global pandemic has significantly changed everyone’s lives. Isolation and hopelessness are an awful combination that has only worsened an epidemic of loneliness.
But there’s a smart solution that could help you get out of an emotional slump: volunteering. It’s being studied as a win-win solution for those suffering from loneliness.
The Loneliness Epidemic
Even before COVID-19, the loneliness epidemic had, unfortunately, already started. With the pandemic, it only got worse what with isolation and minimal human-to-human contact. Trying to adjust to a sudden drastic change only made it worse.
According to an online survey conducted in October 2020 by experts from Harvard, 36% of the 90 American respondents have felt a “serious” case of loneliness, in which they experience the feeling frequently or almost all the time. A part of that 36% includes 61% of the young adults surveyed (ages 18-25) and 51% of the mothers polled.
Volunteerism: A Promising Solution
It has been almost three years since the pandemic started, and slowly but surely, most of the world is beginning to develop a newfound sense of normalcy. However, this doesn’t immediately eliminate bouts of serious loneliness. It’s a feeling that lingers among many, even if they start to experience familiar things that used to make them happy.
Luckily, some have found ways to curb this loneliness, and it’s through an activity that the world needs: volunteering
By volunteering, one gives effort and time to help do a task or move a cause forward without compensation. People volunteer for many reasons, whether because they sympathize with a particular movement or out of pure altruism. Whatever one’s motivation is, it’s been found that volunteering can help a person feel less lonely.
A study published in the Journal of Happiness in 2021 surveyed and observed 70,000 participants from the United Kingdom, comparing those who volunteered the year before the research publication and those who didn’t. Researchers found that people who volunteer regularly feel happier than those who rarely do or do not volunteer. Moreover, there was a noticeable improvement in the volunteers’ overall health compared to the non-volunteers.
But how does volunteering contribute to whether a person feels lonely or not?
For one, it opens up social interactions resulting in a sense of community, belonging, and being part of something. By volunteering, you’ll be meeting and working with many new people. This eliminates one of the leading causes of loneliness: isolation. Throughout your volunteering experience, you’ll interact with people from different walks of life, sharing the same goal.
Having that shared goal is the other way volunteerism helps cure loneliness. When you volunteer, you have a purpose that plays a part in pushing a positive thing out into the world. Whether it’s building awareness for an issue or helping others, you’re playing a part in reaching this goal. You’re part of something that can significantly change the world.
Looking for Volunteer Work?
Once you have the drive to try out volunteer work, it’s time to find a place to do so. But how, exactly, do you do that?
First, think about what skills you can offer. This will help you narrow down the volunteer work you can contribute to.
Next, consider the cause or movement you want to be a part of. Do you want to work in social welfare? Do you want to spread awareness about environmental issues? Finding something you feel strongly about is an excellent way to be motivated about volunteer work.
Then, research the potential organization, government office, or welfare group that shares your cause and that you could potentially work with. Make sure to perform due diligence and confirm that the organization is legitimate. Here’s a great way to match your skills and interest with a local organization.
Volunteering Makes People Happy
Yes, the act of volunteering makes people happy, and by this, we mean not only those on the receiving end. Volunteers become happy, thanks to a community and a cause they found worthy of being a part of. While grim events won’t stop anytime soon, you can be a beacon of hope to others while shining your own beacon.
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