Why Volunteering Is Good for Mental Health

Dear Volunteer,

Naka-high ka na ba?

Teka, teka. Bago mo ako paghinalaan ng kung ano at subukang ipa-tokhang, lilinawin ko na.

Malamang sa hindi ang iniisip mong high ang tinutukoy ko. Hindi din ito yung First Day High na sinabayan mo. Ito yung high na makukuha lang sa pagtulong sa ibang tao.

Helper’s High

Helper’s High is the name for the positive emotional state some people experience after providing help to others. Studies have shown that helping others can produce feelings of happiness and can activate reward centers of the brain just like food or drugs. (Psychology Glossary, AlleyDog.com)

In short – instant diet, libre bisyo. Kung ‘di effective sayo ang South Beach, After Six at Mediterranean diets, subukan mong tumulong – magtutor at makipaglaro sa mga bata, magpakain sa mga nagugutom, o mag-donate. Tapos, hintayin mo nalang na mabusog ka sa mga ngiti at pasalamat nila.

Isa lang din ang side effect ng bisyo na ‘to – happiness, para sa iba at lalo na sayo.

Happiness Hacks

Kilala mo ba sina Endorphin at Dopamine a.k.a. the Happy Hormones? Sila lang naman ang dahilan ng magagandang araw mo.

At alam mo ba na bukod sa exercise at pagtitig kay crush, may iba pang happiness hacks para ma-trigger ang pagrelease nila sa blood stream mo?

Gumawa ka ng checklist. Ticking off an item in your to-do list elicits a sense of accomplishment that leaves you feeling happy. Reward yourself for little achievements. Kain ka ng ice cream pagkatapos maglaba, manood ng K-drama pagkagawa ng assignment, o matulog ng mahaba pagka-email sa client. Vanilla and Lavender helps. Subukan mag-scented candles, ‘wag mo lang tulugan at delikado.

Reassuring isipin na kayang ma-improve ng mga simpleng bagay katulad nito ang mental at overall well-being natin. Pero meron pang isa, at siguradong ngayon alam mo na – ang tumulong sa kapwa, ang mag-volunteer.

Helping others boosts your mental health. Itanong mo pa kay Google. Isang mabilis na search lang ng ‘Volunteering and Mental Health’ at magsasawa ka sa articles at studies na magpapatunay nito. Totoong phenomenon ang tinatawag na Helper’s High at Giver’s Glow – mga salitang naimbento para i-describe ang euphoric experience na nakukuha kapag nagbigay ka – ng oras, effort, attention, material resource – sa mga taong nangangailangan nito.

Pero kung ‘to see is to believe’ ang motto mo, maraming volunteer opportunities para sayo. At para mas makumbinsi kita, ishe-share ko na din ang iba pang benefits na makukuha sa dito.

Anu-ano ba kamo?

Tandaan mo lang ang acronym na ito: FEELS – Find Friends, Esteem, Experience, Longevity and Lower Stress, at Social Connectivity.

Find Friends

Volunteering events are good venues to find like-minded people. Pagkakataon din ito na ma-expose at makapag-contribute sa community at nation building. As you volunteer, you tend to ‘forget yourself’.

You become part of something bigger. Experiences, stories, inspiration and learnings are shared. Sense of belongingness is acquired. These help ward off depression and anxiety.

Esteem

By volunteering, you help make a working system better. It helps nurture a mindset of self-esteem. Just one level away from self-actualization ika nga ni Maslow. Acceptance and being valued by others generate positive feelings essential for mental fitness.

Experience

Added credentials din ang ‘Volunteer Experience’ section sa resume mo. Pero higit pa dun, experiences make your mind grow. Sabi nga, a mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

Longevity and Lower Stress

Ayon sa research, nakakaikli daw ng buhay ang pagkain ng French fries dalawang beses sa isang linggo. Guilty pleasure mo ba ‘to? Kung oo at gusto mong kontrahin ang negative effects nito, mag-volunteer ka. Bakit? Sabi naman kasi ng ibang studies, mas mahaba ang buhay ng mga taong nagvovolunteer ng 100 hours sa isang taon.

At tanda mo pa ang Happy Hormones na pinakilala ko sayo kanina? Hindi ka lang nila napapasaya, natural pain killers at stress relievers din sila. San ka pa?

Social Connectivity

Humans are social beings. We are designed to seek companionship and connection, and that is so for a purpose. It is how we survived. Ingrained na ‘to sa biological codes natin. We have to follow our nature for its obvious merits.

Dati, mahalaga ang social connections para malabanan ang outside forces katulad ng predators, extreme weather at natural calamities. Ngayon, mahalaga ito para naman malabanan ang inside forces gaya ng loneliness, depression, quarter life at midlife crises.

Sa lahat ng na-mention kong perks of being a volunteer, it’s almost as if they are being selfish – gaining so much more than they are giving. But dear volunteer, don’t feel guilty because you are also doing so much more good than you are expecting.

Gie Maningas, 
iVolunteer Philippines

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s