Volunteer: Feel Better by Doing Good

Did you know that people who volunteer not only help their communities, but reap mental and physical health benefits as well? A 2007 study by the Corporation for National and Community Service reports that those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who don't volunteer.

Volunteers often experience the upbeat feeling referred to as "helper's high," along with increased trust in others and increased social and political participation. Older adults tend to receive greater benefits from volunteering than other age groups do.

So, as you plan your retirement life, consider making volunteerism a key component. Here are a few tips for getting started:

  • As a midlife worker, get out there now and see what volunteer opportunities are available, so you know what you enjoy and you aren't at a loss when you retire.
  • Do the same type of self-inventory as when you're seeking a job.
  • Figure out what your passion is, what issues you care about, and seek organizations devoted to that mission.
  • Determine the right balance between leisure and structured activities, and make sure you give yourself some space to enjoy the freedom of retirement.
  • Realize that any help you give is beneficial, and short-term assistance can be very helpful to nonprofits.
  • Look around your own community and check out different organizations like you would if you were joining a gym, or making choices in another area of your life. Figure out which organizations are logistically reasonable for you.
  • You also can check organizations that match volunteers with activities, like VolunteerMatch.

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