In a national survey on volunteer experience, roughly two-thirds agreed that their volunteering had helped them feel less isolated - particularly those aged 18 to 34.
Social isolation is when someone has a lack of social contacts and/or has few people to interact with regularly. This can sometimes lead to loneliness - which occurs when our desire for contact is not met.
So, how could the benefits of volunteering help with social isolation and loneliness? Keep reading…
Good deeds are good for you
Volunteering is a selfless act but it tends to be mutually beneficial for all parties involved. Quite simply it feels good to good, and volunteering is the perfect outlet to do so.
The Mental Health Foundation notes that: “Evidence shows that helping others can also benefit our own mental health and wellbeing. For example, it can reduce stress as well as improve mood, self-esteem and happiness.”
Connecting with the world around you
Volunteering provides the opportunity to connect with others, places, and things that you may have not usually encountered in your day-to-day life.
Not only does this provide you with a greater perspective of the world, but it also provides the opportunity to connect to others and the world around them - which can positively impact upon feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
Statistics show that 90% of volunteers feel they make a difference through their volunteering – most commonly to an individual’s life.
Broadening your social skills
Interacting with new people or people you wouldn’t normally interact with, can help to strengthen your social skills. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
Possessing these skills can also make it easier to form new connections, or even reach out to existing connections to discuss any feelings of loneliness or social isolation.
Providing a sense of structure or routine
If you opt for regular volunteer work, this can be helpful for embedding a routine. Routines are helpful for lowering stress levels; forming good daily habits; taking better care of your health; and feeling more productive.
Whilst volunteering isn’t guaranteed to combat social isolation and/or loneliness, it’s worth remembering that it has worked for some people - so it could work for you.
In fact, 7% of respondents in the Time Well Spent Survey who didn’t formally volunteer reported being lonely often/always. This was higher than those that did formally volunteer (4%).
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