An interview-based study in India explored self-perceived linkages between well-being and volunteering. Individuals engaged in long-term volunteering indicated positive development in terms of mental health and general physical health, as well as strengthened social connections. Further, volunteers on long-term assignments experienced higher levels of self-acceptance, sense of engagement, and growth, compared with short-term volunteers.

Link Between Psychological Well-Being and Volunteering

  • Long-term volunteers experience higher levels of positive psychological outcomes in both mental health and general physical health
  • Engagement in community activities contributes to positive youth development through competence, confidence, caring, and connection
  • Volunteering propels positive youth development┬áthat enables skill building and comfort with identity
  • Long-term volunteers report that engaging in volunteer activities give them a sense of purpose
  • Prejudices diminish
  • Individuals who volunteer are able to interact well with people from a different social class
  • Volunteers gain a willingness to go beyond individual comfort zones
  • Serving the community fosters higher levels of self-confidence in social situations
  • Volunteers achieve better emotional regulation skills and manage negative emotions

Volunteering Fosters Positive Development in Youth

Civic engagement and volunteering experiences are avenues for propelling positive youth development. Volunteers at an animal rescue and protection organization developed enhanced competencies, improved shifts in self-perception and social-moral thinking.

Long-Term Engagement in Formal Volunteering and Well-Being: An Exploratory Indian Study
National Library of Medicine, Jereesh K. Elias, et. al.

Youth Civic Engagement in India: A Case in Point
Department of Psychology, University of Allahabad, Rachana Bhangaokar and Dulari Mehta

RECOMMENDED READING

Summary. This book highlights that doing good for others goes beyond the emotional benefits of feeling good about one’s service. It highlights how caring for others also nurtures positive changes in both mental and physical health. This personal guide helps readers select an activity, prioritize time for volunteering, and maximize health benefits.

Reviews. Readers enjoy how this book explores the phenomenon of a helper’s high – the immediate feel-good sensation as well as the longer term sense of calm and enhanced self-acceptance. It’s a great book and highly recommended to relay the message that helping others leads to improved health.

Summary. Explore the challenges and opportunities for how positive psychology is integrating with new areas of self-help, life coaching, social work, and other real-world settings. Learn how positive psychology is being used in schools.

Reviews. This 2nd edition, updated book is highly admired by readers. It’s detailed and technical so keep in mind that it’s not a simple beach read about positive thinking. Included are lots of detailed research and well thought out discussions about the effects of positive psychology for various applications. Parents comment that although a technical read, it’s a great resource for taking a positive approach to everyday life.

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