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11 Oct, 2019   |   

Why Volunteering Makes You Happy According to Science

It’s no secret that being around other people is more fun than being alone. Social relationships are described as one of the greatest single causes of a person’s overall state of happiness. Thanks to research done by the University of Minnesota, we now know that volunteering in fact creates social gain which “leads to more interaction, engagement, and trust” which all significantly impact a person’s mental health.

Up with People’s travel program advocates towards the awareness and empowerment towards social change on mental health. Over the last ten years, mental health issues have risen among young adults, with social media being one of the main causes. 

Between 2008 and 2017, the amount of adults that experienced serious psychological distress in the last month increased among most age groups, with the largest increases seen among younger adults aged 18-25 (71%). Notably, rates of serious psychological distress increased by 78% among adults aged 20-21 during the time period.” 

– National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Why does volunteering improve mental health? 

Gap year students volunteer abroad

While many factors contribute to happiness, a study completed by BMC Public Health shows that volunteering had positive effects depression, life satisfaction and well-being. There are many ways in which giving back can not only help the lives of others, but can greatly improve yourself as well. From reducing stress levels to finding a sense of purpose, there are many benefits that volunteering provides.

  • Increases self-confidence
  • Provides a sense of purpose
  • Allows you to stay physically healthy by decreasing blood pressure and the risk of heart disease (a recent study from the University of Exeter showed that volunteers had a 22% lower mortality rate than non-volunteers)
  • Encourages emotional connection through social interaction
  • Combats depression
  • Extends a sense of empathy where it may be lacking
  • Enables a solid support system
  • Provides valuable job skills and career experience
  • Improves social awareness

Up with People has contributed in communities around the world through their volunteer abroad program This semester-long program sends 100 young adults from more than 15 countries to travel and participate in various community service activities to not only improve the lives of others, but to help create impactful, global citizens. Some of the volunteer opportunities provided to students include, but are not limited to:

  • Leadership Programs in Schools
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Environmental Sustainability Projects
  • Parks and Recreation Assistance
  • Senior Living Centers

The benefits of volunteering far outweigh the consequences of remaining within your own social circle, regardless of how big or small it may be. Whether it is finding time within your local community, or being a part of a larger volunteering program like Up with People, there is always a way to give back and find happiness.

If you are ready to change your life, start by changing the lives of others. Learn how you can apply to travel in Up with People and start making a difference in the world.



“I will show love, I will
I will share hope, I will
I will believe we will…
We will”

I Will © Up with People


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