You know that warm feeling you get when you help someone out, brighten someone’s day, or better another person’s life? There is something rewarding about offering your time and resources to someone beyond yourself. Often what begins as a way to “give back” becomes a gift itself. As volunteer digital coach Arianna Chen reflects, “When you teach someone something, you learn from that too. Being able to go through everything with them, helping them figure out what is best for them, makes me feel good in return.” It’s no surprise then, that research shows that volunteering makes us happier!
A recent study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that people who volunteer are happier than those who do not. Every two years from 1996 to 2014, researchers took data from nearly 70,000 research participants about their volunteering habits, mental health, levels of stress, and daily mood. The results? Not only does volunteering makes us happier — it can also improve our mental health over time.
One benefit to volunteering is the sense of social connection it provides. By helping even just one person, you play a role in bettering your whole community. Further, volunteering provides the opportunity to build relationships with people you might have otherwise never met. In the case of our Home Connect program, many of our young adult volunteers are enthusiastic about the intergenerational friendships it fosters. “I treat her like my grandmother, and she treats me like a granddaughter. That warms my heart,” says volunteer digital coach Joyce Banks.
Another benefit to volunteering is the leadership and life skills it can provide. CTN’s digital coaches experience the challenges and joys of teaching someone how to use the internet for the first time. While it can sometimes push them out of their comfort zone, they gain valuable teaching skills and an ability to work with diverse groups of people.
Throughout the pandemic, an increasing number of people are experiencing feelings of depression and isolation. We are all in need of a bit more connection and a healthy dose of optimism. Consider spending an hour of your week building a relationship with an isolated senior and teaching them to use the internet. It may just brighten both of your days!
Check out our volunteer page to get started today!