Article by Anne House, Volunteer Services Manager, Collabria Care

The greatest health benefit that volunteering can give you is a sense of happiness or enhanced well being.

There’s an old Chinese Proverb:

If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day – go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year – inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime – help someone else.

Why is being happy so important? A growing body of research is demonstrating that as we become happier, we become better people. As we become happier, we become more compassionate, more creative, more energetic, more financially successful, more emotionally and physically healthy.

Elizabeth Landau of CNN wrote: Happiness – You know it when you see it, but it’s hard to define. You might call it a sense of well-being, of optimism or of meaningfulness in life, though; these can be treated as separate entities. But whatever happiness is, we know that we want it, and that it is just somehow good.

In 2012 a study found a definite connection between positive psychological attributes, such as happiness, optimism and life satisfaction and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s not as simple as if you are happy you prevent heart attacks. However, if you have a good sense of well-being, it is easier to maintain good habits, such as exercise, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep.

The study also showed that lower blood pressure, normal body weight and healthier blood fat profiles and reduced levels of inflammation were also associated with having an overall sense of well-being.

So, what does volunteering have to do with happiness? Helping others can kindle happiness in a variety of ways and grow into warmth that can last a lifetime.

Here are 4 specific ways volunteering can help you to be happier and healthier.

 It can connect you to others in your community.

Unpaid volunteers are the glue that holds a community together.  Volunteering allows you to connect with people in your community and make it a better place to live. Collabria Care’s base of volunteer service has been making Napa Valley a better place to live for over 40 years! For instance, becoming a Hospice Patient Care Volunteer allows you to help people during one of the biggest transitions of their lives. If you are not called to hospice, there are many other opportunities to be a part of our community: Front Desk, General Office, Outreach/ PR, Collabria Day Program, La Boheme, Act 2, Up Valley Village and more.

It is good for your body and mind.

Doing good for others in your community provides a natural sense of accomplishment, self-confidence, pride and identity which can have a positive effect on your overall well – being. One of our volunteers says that the best days of her week are when she is at the Front Desk.  Another is just tickled over how much a hospice patient enjoys her visits and their conversations. The volunteers who help at La Boheme and Act 2 make a huge difference for many in our community by helping to raise funds for all of the services provided at Collabria Care. In addition, free learning opportunities flourish at Collabria Care and can be found on our website.

Volunteering can advance your career.

Volunteering offers you a chance to try out a new career without making a long-term commitment. A young volunteer was interested in getting into the Medical Records field. She has taken some classes, but needed experience to put on her resume. While she is helping us, she is learning skills that she can use to find a job. Nurses working in other professions can learn about the field of end of life care and can earn an end of life specialist certification.

Volunteering brings a sense of meaning and fulfillment to your life.

Volunteering is a way to explore your interests and passions and to find a meaningful connection with people who have similar interests. Collabria Day Program volunteers find an energizing outlet by sharing their skills such as gardening, knitting, crocheting, one on one interaction, art and music to enhance the participant’s quality of life. Up Valley Village volunteers are at the core of a new program that provides special services to enhance independent older adults for residents of Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga.

When it comes to volunteering, passion, positivity, skills and availability that match the assignments, are the main requirements.

Tips for Getting Started:

  • Ask yourself if there is something specific you want to do. You will get a more enjoyable volunteer experience if you take some time to identify your goals and interests.
  • Fill out a volunteer inquiry form on our website and someone will call you! Or, call Anne House, Volunteer Resource Manager to find out more about how we can work together. 707-254-4172

READ MORE ABOUT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES AT COLLABRIA CARE

Bibliography
Why Happiness is Healthy – CNN.com
The Generosity Plan by Kathy LeMay
The Healing Power of Doing Good by Allan Luks
SpiritCareMinistry.org
Waller Wellness Center