A natural high from helping out

The psychological rewards of volunteering are vast. I personally know someone who read to the blind following a job loss and he still talks about that deeply rewarding experience years later. I also have a family member who became actively involved in a national health organization following a diagnosis of a chronic medical condition. This helped to build support and bond family while rallying around a worthy campaign. I also started my career in mental health by volunteering at a 24-hour suicide hotline while in college. The tales and benefits from that experience will last a lifetime.  

I frequently suggest that clients volunteer, especially those who are between jobs, as it connects them with people to provide a sense of belonging and community, looks great on the résumé and most importantly, helps those in need. Volunteering and charity can help to lower stress by distracting you from your own problems, putting them into perspective and allowing you to realize that there are indeed those who are far less fortunate. Some describe a feeling of great satisfaction, a “helper’s high,” where there’s a rush of endorphins. It also provides an opportunity to take an active role in combating a problem that you feel strongly about. You make social and professional connections while learning new skills, responsibility and leadership.

–Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome.


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