2020: The Year of the Best You

It feels like ages since a post has gone up on the blog—Welcome to 2020! I, like many, have deemed 2020 as the year of self-care and self-betterment and I’m sure many of you have set resolutions that you’d like to accomplish this year. Whatever they are, I hope they’re going well. This year, I decided to handle my resolutions a little differently, and rather than list every little thing that I want to do or change, I went with an overarching one. My resolution this year is to be the best me I can be, and as I was doing research on achieving goals and happiness, volunteering popped up a lot. I found out a lot about the benefits of volunteering, and I thought it would be nice to share them here because CASA is a volunteer-based program. Volunteering can do wonders for your social life. Whether it’s for CASA or your local animal shelter, volunteering can connect you to dozens to hundreds of others who share the same interests that you do. This can lead to new friendships and other relationships. You could meet your best friend or the love of your life. It broadens your network. Similarly, volunteering and being around new people on a regular basis can boost your social skills by giving you the opportunity to practice actually talking to others. I have always found introducing myself to others rather tasking, and volunteering almost forces you to do that semi-regularly. Another huge difference volunteering can make is on your health, mentally and physically. Mainly, volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety; studies have also shown that it is a great way to combat depression. Why? Because people want to help people, and helping leads to happiness. Humans are designed to be helpful. A group of psychologists did a study that compared individuals who volunteer regularly to those who don’t; they saw an increase in the “Happiness Trifecta” which consists of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin in the individuals who regularly volunteered. On top of that, being in regular contact with people can help you develop a solid support system, which combats and protects you from depression. Volunteering also increases self-confidence. Doing good things for others provides a sense of accomplishment, which goes hand-in-hand with releasing those happy hormones in your brain and body. Odds are, if you’re volunteering, you have a designated role. For example, at CASA, our volunteers are designated as “Advocates.” Regardless of what you are volunteering for, if you have a role, it’s going to feed your sense of self and gives you something to be proud of. The pride that comes with volunteering can be especially helpful in those who feel they need something extra in their lives. Many older adults who have retired turn to volunteer work to fill their time. Now when you think of volunteering and physical health benefits, you might think that there aren’t that many; however, there are quite a few that, when implemented, can seemingly make a huge change in your life. Studies have found a lower mortality rate in those who volunteer regularly. There is also research that shows volunteering decreases the chance to

develop hypertension and heart disease. Other studies have been done to take a look at chronic pain and volunteering, which also shows evidence of decreased pain when you volunteer regularly. And on top of all of that, volunteering exercises your mind, leading to increased thinking skills, and your body, by keeping you more physically active. Many associate volunteering with helping others; however, it provides tons of benefits for your mind and body, boosting mental, physical, and social health. It’s a new year, and even though January is almost over, it’s never too late to set a resolution. Why not set one that not only benefits you, but others who are in need? As always, the CASA team wishes you well on whatever endeavors you are pursuing, and we hope you have a wonderful 2020!