How Volunteering May Save Your Life

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Stressed out? Volunteering reduces stress and can save your life.

You’ve heard how stress is bad for your health, but new research indicates the way you think about stress is more dangerous. Studies show people who view stress as unhealthy are more likely to die from stress-related illness, such as cardiovascular disease.

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal shares new insight into physical responses to stress. One such fascinating insight is how stress can contribute to the greater good. In her TED Talk “How To Make Stress Your Friend,” McGonigal shares how stress makes us more social. It is a natural reaction to reach out to others when feeling stressed.

Volunteering is a wonderful way to reduce stress, as well as the stress of others. Helping neighbors or community members positively impacts your health and society. One study asked about 1,000 adults in the United States ages 34-93 two questions:

“How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”
“How much time have you spent helping out friends, neighbors, people in your community?”

Public death records indicated the risk of dying increased 30% with each major stressful life experience. However, study participants who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase of dying. “Caring created resilience,” explains McGonigal.

“How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress,” she says’ “When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.”

The change in attitude just might turn one of our worst enemies into an ally!



Sarah DaxtonAbout the Author:  Sarah Daxton, associate with New Place Collaborations, is a self-proclaimed cat lady, chocoholic, beard enthusiast, and aspiring writer. She is currently a graduate student pursuing a Master of Professional Writing at Chatham University.