While volunteers play a key role in many community events and organizations, they also reap a variety of benefits when they give their time to others.
Wendy Buhler of Buhler Counselling in Steinbach says there are psychological, mental health, and social benefits to being a volunteer.
“It can greatly reduce your stress and create meaningful social roles,” she says.
As volunteers focus on other people as well as tasks, Buhler says it takes the attention away from negative thoughts.
Volunteering is also a great way to connect with others, expand your social circle and feel a sense of belonging, she adds.
“One thing that I hear a lot from some of my clients is that they're experiencing a lot of loneliness. When everything shut down a few years ago when the world turned upside down, people kind of stayed home and they almost became recluses and now they're having trouble finding ways to get out. So, some of the social benefits of volunteering, number one in my opinion, is it reduces that loneliness. You feel a sense of community, so you feel increased support and interaction with people. Your social networks are improving. You feel like you're connected, and people know you. You can receive support from some of your fellow volunteers. And a big thing is emotional attachment. Not everybody has a sense of secure attachment with family members, and so this is a way to get that from some other people.”
Buhler says she recommends her clients get involved in the community by volunteering.
“It is important to volunteer. It doesn't matter what kind of organization,” she says. “If you love sports, then go and coach some younger kids. I did that when I was in university. I went and coached my niece’s T-Ball team. But if you are really struggling with your own mental health, focusing on other people really changes your mindset. It takes the pressure off of your own challenges and it lets you focus on other people. And in that, you can see that maybe your problem isn't quite so bad, somebody else's problem maybe is greater.”