Most of us know that volunteering is a great way to get a lift, but many researchers are discovering that volunteering actually has measurable benefits to our overall health and well-being. This week, we are doing a three-part series, sharing the highlights from a recent study conducted by VolunteerMatch and UnitedHealthcare entitled, “Do Good Live Well.”

Today we are going to look at the impact volunteering has on emotional well-being.

An overwhelming percentage of study participants, 92%, agree that volunteering has improved their well-being and deepened their sense of purpose in life. Volunteers linked also linked their service to improved emotional health and a greater sense of self-esteem and happiness.

So what’s the magic number to begin seeing an improvement in emotional well-being? When discussing their general outlook on life, 8 out of 10 Americans (78%) who volunteer 50 hours or more a year (approximately 1 hour a week), have an optimistic outlook on life. This is compared to only 67% of those who volunteer less than 50 hours a year. It appears that consistent, small-scale service is a key to greater contentment for many in America.

Along with improvement in positive areas, a number of negative emotions occur less often among those who volunteer regularly, including:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness

By spending just one hour a week, or 3-4 hours a month volunteering, you can drastically improve your emotional health, and that’s a pill that’s easy to swallow.

So here’s to your health, and keep volunteering!