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You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get after you’ve given someone a thoughtful gift or assisted them with a difficult task? Those are endorphins, our bodies’ feel-good chemical. And it’s not a coincidence that they appear whenever we’re doing good for others. In fact, research suggests that when we spread kindness, we’re boosting our own mental health and well-being too. According to a study by the Journal of Happiness Studies, people who volunteered in the past year were more satisfied with their lives and rated their overall health better than those who didn’t volunteer.

How does volunteering boost mental well-being?

The benefits of volunteering aren’t just seen or felt by the people or communities directly served. Here are some of the ways volunteering benefits our physical and mental well-being:

  • Balances mood. Being kind and giving back releases chemicals in our bodies that make us feel good. This is beneficial to counteracting the effects of other things we may be feeling like stress, sadness, or anger. The more we spread kindness, the more balanced we may feel throughout the days, weeks, months and years.
  • Boosts self-confidence. People who volunteer or are more active in their communities often feel a great sense of pride from the work they are doing and the kindness they are spreading. Doing good for others helps you feel accomplished. And when your life feels more fulfilled, it helps you feel more confident and secure in yourself and your future.
  • Creates a sense of purpose. This is especially true for older adults or those who’ve suffered the loss of a spouse or loved one. Volunteering can bring new meaning to your life and give you something to look forward to and pour your time and energy into. Purpose is important to attaining a positive state of mental well-being.
  • Keeps us active and social. Volunteering keeps us engaged in life and our surroundings, which has great health benefits. But it’s also a great way to connect with neighbors and new people. Sometimes it’s hard to meet people, especially if you’re shy, and volunteering can help make that process easier.
  • Teaches valuable skills: In addition to teaching us skills like teamwork, problem solving and communication, volunteering also opens us up to new opportunities and challenges that we may not experience otherwise. These are valuable life skills that can be applied in the workplace and at home.

Maybe you’re not ready to commit to volunteering in public places with groups of people. Or maybe you’re just looking for other ways to volunteer. Fortunately, there are many ways to volunteer online, without having to leave your home. For example: You could volunteer for a crisis hot line, put together care packages for the military, send cards to children’s hospitals or donate to an animal shelter.

Not ready to volunteer?

That’s OK! There are lots of other ways to be kind.

Give kindness. This could be picking up a prescription for an elderly neighbor, bringing a meal to a friend who isn’t feeling well or giving a stranger your seat on the bus.

Spread kindness. Try being kind to someone you disagree with. Or simply complimenting someone’s hair or shoes. Tell a friend or loved one how much they mean to you.

There are lots of ways to show strangers and loved ones kindness. And you never know how your kind gesture may impact their day or life.

Tools available to help members

We have tools that can help you take small steps on your journey to spreading kindness. Our meQuilibrium (meQ) digital mental well-being program is a great place to start. It offers articles, activities, videos and skill-building exercises to help you, including:

  • 3 Amazing Side Effects of Kindness (Terri Trespicio)
  • Random Act of Kindness
  • Do Something Kind – Cup of Calm
  • Virtual Acts of Kindness – Cup of Calm
  • Do Good. Live Better. Here’s How – Cup of Calm

meQ is available at no extra cost to members of fully insured Florida Blue and Florida Blue Medicare health plans.*

 

 

*meQuilibrium is an independent company contracted by Florida Blue and Florida Blue Medicare to provide health and wellness services and resources to members. This benefit is available to Florida Blue members age 18 and older. Eligibility is limited to members with an individual or family plan, an individual or family ACA plan and members with coverage from their fully insured group employer health plan.

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