Volunteering has been a part of AA since the very beginning and still an important part of the program. You haven’t really worked the steps until you have helped others. If you’re new to recovery, you may not see the point of volunteering. Shouldn’t you fix your own problems before you worry about helping others? What many people don’t understand is that volunteering isn’t a purely altruistic act, but you actually get a lot out of it. By helping others, you help yourself. Here’s how volunteering strengthens your recovery.
Volunteering makes you happier.
Many studies have linked volunteering to feeling better, both mentally and physically. Although we typically believe we’ll be happiest when we get things, research shows we’re actually much happier when we give. About a quarter of Americans volunteer, and of those, about 78 percent say it lowers their stress and about 94 percent say it improves their mood. The lower stress leads to health benefits as well. Studies have found that people who volunteer live longer and have lower risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia.
Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose.
There are a number of reasons volunteering makes you happier. One reason is that it gives you a sense of purpose. When you volunteer, you are essentially saying to yourself that this work is so important, you are willing to do it for free rather than all the other things you could be doing with your time. Typically volunteers feel a personal connection to their cause. This is why people recovering from addiction often volunteer in their 12-step programs or other addiction-related causes. Most importantly, volunteering connects you to something more bigger than yourself.
Volunteering connects you to other people.
Another reason volunteering makes you happier is that it connects you to other people. It connects to the people you want to help and it connects you to other volunteers. It helps you develop empathy for others and gratitude for what you have. Volunteering also makes people feel like they’re more connected to their community and that they’re doing something to actively improve their community. About 95 percent of volunteers feel like they’re helping to make their community a better place.
Volunteering helps you make amends.
Volunteering can also be a way of making amends. It’s not always possible to directly make amends for things you did in active addiction and volunteering can be a way to still do something positive. What’s more, it can improve your self-esteem. Many people carry a lot of guilt and volunteering can help change your self-image from someone who has done bad things to someone who actively tries to help others.
Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers an integrative and holistic approach to treat substance abuse and a wide variety of addictions, as well as underlying mental health and psychological issues. All of the addiction recovery programs offered by The Arbor are designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit leading to a lifetime of sobriety, health and wellness. If you’re ready to find healing and restoration in a peaceful, loving environment, please call us today at 844-560-7269.