Here are some health benefits you might experience through volunteering.
A renewed sense of purpose
This can be especially helpful for adults who are no longer engaged as full-time parents or wage-earners.2
A greater sense of well-being and life satisfaction
Volunteering can help you enjoy a sense of purpose and fulfillment—which can lead to a greater sense of well-being.1
Reduced stress and anxiety
Helping others can help distract you from your own stress. The social networks you form can provide a buffer from stress, as well.2
Research shows that people who volunteer have fewer depression symptoms. This is particularly true for older adults.1,2
Stay active in body and mind
Volunteering may help keep you physically and mentally active.1 Getting out of the house, learning new tasks, and meeting new people can keep you active and engaged.
Ready to get started?
If you’re interested in paying it forward, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you want to grow or expand your social network?
- Are you passionate about a cause?
- Do you want to get exposed to new people or new ideas?
- Do you want to develop new interests or hobbies?
These questions can help you better understand your personal goals for volunteering. Once you narrow your reasons for volunteering, think about what you can offer. Consider the following:
- Would you want to work with animals, children or adults in need? Do you have skills or experience in these areas?
- Are you interested in the arts, history or nature? How can you share that knowledge or interest?
- What skills do you have that a charity or organization can use? (Think broadly. Specific skills learned from a profession, general skills such as project- or people-management and certain hobbies such as photography, video editing, or social media can be very helpful to charitable causes.)
- How much time can you commit?
What kind of volunteer options are available to me?
The following is a small list of common volunteer opportunities to spark ideas. For specific opportunities near you, visit VolunteerMatch.
- Local animal shelters or rescues
- National and local parks and land conservation
- Art museums and historical societies
- Political campaigns
- Local hospitals and health centers
- Youth organizations, senior care centers or hospice care
- Veteran’s causes
- Service organizations such as the Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs or Red Cross
Looking to give back to others with MS?
- View volunteer opportunities with the National MS Society
- View volunteer opportunities with the MS Association of America
What if I have limited mobility or need special accommodations?
There are plenty of ways you can still volunteer. In today’s digital world, many organizations need help with writing, graphic design, sending emails and mail, database entry and other tasks that can be accomplished remotely. While you may not fully benefit from the richness of new social connections, you can still experience a sense of well-being from helping others.