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How Helping Others Helps You Live Longer

How Helping Others Helps You Live Longer

If you’ve ever been involved in a volunteer program, you know how uplifting and fulfilling the act of helping others can be. There’s no other feeling in the world quite like seeing their smiling faces and knowing that you helped make a difference in somebody’s life. You know that serving the community supports those around you, but did you know it can help you as well?

Turns out, helping others can actually help you live longer. You heard that right: the key to a long and fruitful life might exist in what you give, not in what you get. So, how exactly does helping others help you live longer? Let’s dive into the science behind volunteering and the positive impact altruism can have on your life.

According to TIME, a recent review of the health effects of volunteering found that helping others on a regular basis—such as serving in a community shelter or working with foster youth—can reduce early mortality rates by 22%, compared to mortality rates for those who don’t participate in altruistic activities. The review was published in BMC Public Health and included 40 different studies. Here are a few of the reasonings they found in connection between altruistic acts and mortality rates.

Reduced Rates of Depression
Serving others through volunteering and charitable giving can actually reduce rates of depression and feelings of loneliness within ourselves. Helping others gives you a sense of purpose, pride and compassion knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life. In other words, by brightening others’ days, you can also brighten your own. And when depression rates are reduced, your mental health improves, thus boosting your physical health and helping you to live a longer, fuller life.

Lowered Blood Pressure
Not only does volunteering affect your mental and emotional health, but it can also directly influence your physical health. In a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University, published in Psychology and Aging, researchers found that adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure. As we age, blood pressure is a strong determining health factor, because it contributes to issues such as heart disease, stroke and… you guessed it, premature death. By helping others in your community, you can also lower your blood pressure and lengthen your lifespan.

Increased Sense of Life Satisfaction
In the craziness of life, it can be easy to get lost in your work, caring for kids or even maintaining a marriage. Through all this mayhem, finding a true calling and purpose is difficult. For many people, volunteering and serving in the community helps provide a new sense of life satisfaction. Knowing that you can truly make a difference in another human being’s life—that brings a real sensation of joy. And when we have an increased sense of life satisfaction overall, each day brings with it a new feeling of purpose and fulfillment.

Expanded Social Connections
Finally, the more you volunteer, the more likely you are to interact with other people. These people can be completely new and different to those already in your social circle, and help expand your current sense of social connections. To put it simply: when you volunteer, you can also make new friends. And study after study has shown that as we age, social connections are a vital component in maintaining our vitality and living longer. By getting involved in the community, your broaden your circle of peers and bring in new avenues for social interactions.

While helping others definitely makes a difference in the community, it can also help you, too. Through reduced rates of depression, lowered blood pressure, increased sense of life satisfaction and expanded social connections, volunteering can actually help you live longer. See how you can get involved in a cause you care about in the community and live a happier, fuller, longer life.

Our Impact in 2017

January 1-December 31
  • CAPSA is a non-profit domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape recovery center serving Cache County and the Bear Lake area.

  • YCC Family Crisis Center is a domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center provide services 24/7 to victims and their children.

  • Utah Legal Services (ULS) is a nonprofit law office incorporated in 1976 committed to making equal justice a reality by providing free legal help in non-criminal cases to low-income Utahns.

  • South Valley Services is a domestic violence service provider in West Jordan, Utah. We provide safe shelter and supportive services to women, men and their children who have been impacted by domestic violence.

  • Today, the YWCA is Utah’s most comprehensive provider of family violence services; our programs include walk-in services and a crisis line, emergency shelter, transitional housing, children’s programs, and a vast array of supportive services.

  • Established in 1990, Seekhaven assists survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault rebuild their lives. Serving Grand County and Southeastern Utah, Seekhaven provides a wide range of essential services including client advocacy, emergency shelter, and transition assistance.

  • Peace House is dedicated to ending family violence and abuse through education, outreach, support services, and safe housing.

  • New Hope Crisis Center has been serving Box Elder County for 30 years. Our mission is to provide all-inclusive, integrated, victim-centered services to stabilize and support individuals, families, and our community.

  • Founded in 1984, The Center for Women and Children in Crisis has been in continuous operation for 33 years. Our mission is to provide a caring, advocating, safe, and educationally based environment for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

  • Our organization advocates for victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, and the homeless. Serving people in Sevier, Piute, Millard, Sanpete and Wayne counties of Utah.

  • The DOVE Center is the only area agency providing safe-shelter, crisis intervention, and prevention for clients who have been victimized by violence in their home – whether by a family member or cohabitant – that also serves victims of rape and sexual assault.

  • Founded in 1922, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake is a non-profit organization that promotes safety, stability and self-sufficiency for low income families and individuals, as well as victims of domestic violence, through effective, efficient legal advocacy and assistance.

  • Canyon Creek Services provides free and confidential services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Iron, Beaver and Garfield Counties.

  • Valley Behavioral Health is a nonprofit network of clinics providing treatment for behavioral conditions, addictions, psychiatric conditions, autism and other chronic health conditions. We treat chronic lifelong conditions as well as temporary conditions triggered by traumatic life events. Our programs are tailored to people of all ages and every social, cultural and economic situation.

  • Preserve the heritage. Enhance the wellbeing. Strengthen the future of the People.

  • Our Mission: To bring hope, justice, and healing to victims of domestic violence murder by providing holistic non-profit legal representation in the civil, probate and family courts.

  • At Amethyst Center for Healing we are dedicated to helping individuals, families, and communities recover from trauma and abuse, so that we may all live peaceful, empowered lives.

  • Cycling club dedicated to ending child abuse.

© 2018 Utah Domestic Violence Coalition

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