‘Help me, help you’: Volunteering leads to better health

Every year around this time, New Year’s Resolutions and potential life goals are put on pause.

The desire to pursue well-intentioned dreams is still strong, but the demanding weight of the new semester can become outright overbearing; however, now is the time to think and be different.

This day, this very hour is the time to be wholeheartedly devoted to anything. In every direction that life could stretch, whether that be with personal relationships, health or community, it’s time to be authentically involved.

Hesitant readers need to face this fact: investing in anyone or anything outside of personal gain elevates positive mental and physical health.

According to a 2013 study by unitedhealthgroup.com, 76 percent of American adults who volunteer reported that volunteering made them feel physically happier. Additionally, 78 percent of those surveyed said that volunteering lowered their stress levels.

Assistant director of Metropolitan Volunteer Program Sara Lalani said that while “there are problems in the world,” the “only way to solve them is to do something about it.”

A 2007 report done by the Corporation for National & Community Service showed that volunteering can help people’s mental health, often achieving a “helper’s high.” The study revealed that those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life.

These extensive health benefits achieved from outwardly investing one’s time in something bigger than oneself should be enough to convince someone to volunteer. It’s also worth mentioning Harvard Medical School‘s discovery that students who volunteer experience lower blood pressure.

With one out of every three Americans suffering from high blood pressure — and with high blood pressure being the leading cause of stroke, heart disease and premature death — the time to take action is now. By investing time in someone or something, students can feel better and breathe happier.

Emily Johnson, Ongoing Service Events Chair of Metropolitan Volunteer Program, said humans are products of their environment. She said she became involved in helping members of the community because “they help us” and “they teach us lessons.”

Be invested in fine-crafted cuisine, schoolwork, a new friend or simply anything that motivates involvement. Whatever passion students choose to be dedicated to and enthusiastic about, the rewards will reflect their effort.

Opinion columnist Courtney Gigant is a business sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].

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