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Volunteering at University and Happiness

Student volunteering at university and making a difference Most students are likely, and for good reason, under the impression that volunteering at university is a completely unrealistic responsibility to work into their already overburdened lives. If you are taking a full course-load, and perhaps even working part-time to supplement your income, it might seem like every single second, of every single day has already been accounted for well in advance. You are lucky to find a couple hours a week to sit down and have a coffee with a friend.

However, if you were to carefully analyze how you spend what little free time you do have at school (let’s be realistic, it’s not zero for most people), much of it could be far better spent. One of the ways it could be better spent is helping other people. Not only does it allow you to claim on a resume that you do things outside of studying and sleeping, but it also, it turns out, can do a wide range of good things for you psychologically. Below are some of the reasons why volunteering at university can make you a happier person.

Volunteering at university connects you with other like-minded people

Even if you consider yourself an extreme introvert, chances are, you do enjoy at least a little social interaction every so often. The chances are also high that regardless of how introverted or extroverted you are, interacting with like-minded fellow human beings is something you like to do. Even the misanthrope feels a thrill upon encountering a fellow misanthrope. When you dedicate your time to helping others, or to helping a specific cause, the people you meet doing so will, at the very least, have been compelled by a similar desire, or thought process as you.

The fact remains, being lonely is strongly correlated with worse physical and emotional health. People who spend extended periods of time by themselves, without the comfort of other human beings, often find themselves more depressed, anxious, and with a poorer outlook on life. Volunteering at university is a great way to not only connect with your fellow human beings, but do so in a setting where you are making a difference. It could be cleaning up a local park, or sitting down with some local seniors to chat about life for a couple of hours each week.

Volunteering makes us happy

A large part of the reason people volunteer is that it feels good. Helping others and being altruistic for its own sake is clearly also a fundamental part of why people volunteer, and continue to volunteer over time, but they are also likely getting an endorphin rush out of it as well.

The reason why volunteering promotes happiness and mental well-being is that it reminds us we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, and it helps provide us with perspective on our lives. People are designed to search for meaning; it is part of the human condition. We don’t just live in the here and now, we compare the here and now to our past, as well as make predictions about and project ourselves into the future. All of this introspection and reflection can prompt intense feelings of emotional uncertainty, and spending your time doing something that will help other people provides the feeling that what you are doing really matters.

It also helps us understand where we really are in our lives. If you spend all of your time self-absorbed, and consumed by what is going on in the small bubble you live in, it can be easy to think you have it bad. Spend some time volunteering, especially among vulnerable or marginalized populations, and you will likely realize that your life (as a university student in the West getting an education and working on improving your life) likely has some aspects to be thankful for.

Sense of purpose

If you have spent much time volunteering in the past, you likely have noticed that a lot of senior citizens volunteer their time. It makes sense from a time perspective. Older, retired people have more free time to do things like volunteer. But it is also because a large amount of research shows that seniors who volunteer their time maintain better mental health than those who do not. It makes sense that people who have spent their entire lives being parents and building careers, when that stage of their lives comes to an end, would be looking for a place to fill the void.

Volunteering provides seniors and university students alike with a sense of meaning and purpose. Much of the psychological misery that can be part of the human condition (for some, an overwhelming part) has to do with feeling as though our lives don’t have meaning or purpose. Helping others provides that sense of meaning and purpose to a great many people, which in turn improves outlook and attitude. If you would like to spend some of your time volunteering, but your term papers are getting in the way of really getting serious about it, there are services out there that can help you free up some of your time.

Volunteering is not something that you need to spend hours doing every single week in order to feel that you have done something worthwhile, or to get the happiness-boosting benefits of helping others. You can volunteer an hour per week, or a couple of hours per month, and still feel you have done something worthwhile. Additionally, volunteering is not a cure-all for depression or negative feelings about life. If you find yourself really struggling at school, talk to a mental health professional about it.

Volunteering at university is something anyone and everyone can and should do, and if you find there simply isn’t enough time in the day to take advantage of all the great volunteer opportunities on campus, get in touch with Homework Help Global and let a professional essay writer help you free up some time.

References:

Kent, M. (2011). “Volunteering and health for aging populations.” PRB. Retrieved from: https://www.prb.org/volunteering-and-aging-2/

Schmidt, L. “6 ways volunteering makes you happy.” The Chopra Centre. Retrieved from:
https://chopra.com/articles/6-ways-volunteering-makes-you-happy

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