5 Reasons helping other people will help you

22 March 2016

We all know that helping people is good, it makes the lives of the ones we help that little bit better. But something we don’t consider often is how it can make us feel, what positive impacts volunteering our time can have on our health and happiness. It’s something that doesn't get the credit it deserves but is without doubt something worth talking about.

I've put together a short list of the most important ways helping others can help you. Enjoy

1. When you do good, it feels good

It seems obvious, but sometimes the smallest wave is the one that gets you to shore. Not that this reason is small, actually it may be one of the bigger ones on the list. First of all, seeing a smile on a stranger’s face is something that really does make you feel warm inside, that ‘feel good’ factor is a part of helping others that should be embraced. Whatever you do, whether tiny or absolutely life changing, it’s important to remember you did it and having that feeling, drive and passion for others is some seriously life enriching stuff, we should all try it, at least once.

2. It can help combat anxiety and depression

Who knew that volunteering your time could help you get a handle on our own state of mind? Becoming a regular volunteer can help build consistent relationships and develop a solid and true understanding of what a healthy support system should feel like, which can heavily reduce anxiety and stress levels. One of the risks with depression is social isolation, and being involved with a local project is a really effective way to tackle personal challenges. Today more than ever is a time when mental health is a huge issue and it’s something that all of us are connected to. According to the Office for National Statistics around 19% of the UK population have shown signs of depression and with the current population in the UK around 64 million that leaves 10.2 million over the age of 16 affected by depression and/or anxiety - these are huge numbers. Knowing that volunteering and helping others can help to combat this is really positive news and we all should be shouting from the rooftops about it.

3. What goes around comes around

Now, this may seem like I'm about to go on a big old rant about Karma and there may be some of you that don’t believe that’s the way things work, but Karma isn't really the point I'm trying to make. It’s a simple science really, if you provide something valuable to someone (i.e. your time and effort) then that person, charity or company will attach that value to you. Do this enough times and you will see something amazing start to happen, it might lead you on a new path, it may help with career progression or personal goals. Nothing on the entire planet trumps intent, and nothing says intent and value quite like helping somebody else achieve their goals.

4. No one ever became poor by giving

Anne Frank was right, nobody has become poor by giving. The list on ways to give isn't a small one - there's a mountain of ways taller than Everest. All it takes is an attitude and you will earn the riches that come with kindness. Buy a coffee and talk to someone on the street, learn their name, where they grew up and connect with them, find a local Community Project and help out, volunteer for specific events. After a 30 second Google search you’ll find so much going on right on your doorstep it will blow your socks off! Experience, human connection, friendships, achievement and well-being. These are all things that are so important to us as people, don’t think of it like you are ‘giving up’ your time, because you aren't. Volunteering or just spending time with someone who needs it is something that can give you so much more than you put in, it’s a sure thing which in business terms would be a no-brainer, so in the business of life, shouldn't we be taking opportunities like that?

5. Meet the unexpected

I've mentioned friendship already but I want to delve a little deeper. Most of the people I have met through unexpected circumstances are now some of the most important people in my life. Meeting people is all part of human nature, we're social creatures designed to be around one another. When you decide to reach out and help out you can find the most amazing things, you meet the most amazing people, and you can end up in places you never thought you would. There are 7.4 billion people in the world, all from different cultures and backgrounds and the bonds we form can be so strong they last a lifetime. The most interesting and strongest of relationships have formed in some pretty unusual ways, volunteering and helping others puts you centre stage. You're now in a position to learn about the people you meet and what their world looks like, you'll learn things you didn't know before and become friends with people you didn't think you would, how's that for free?

So, what’s the next step?

There you have it, helping others isn't just good for the people you help but is good for everyone, and probably in more ways than you first thought. Whether it’s big or small, taking those first steps towards making a positive change in the way we see others and how we decide to interact with each other is big stuff and we should all consider our own outlook on the subject.

How much we want to get involved will affect our decision on how we move forwards - we all have different levels of desire and confidence and that’s ok, so whether you buy a coffee for someone, spend some time with people who need it, or jump in and volunteer for a local project, we can all make the difference to the people we cross paths with, and that is something to really be excited about.

To find a project near you, try - it might be just the thing you needed to get started!

- Matt