As the academic year gets into full swing and you find yourself overwhelmed with school, work and other responsibilities, you might feel as though you simply don’t have enough time.
The stress of college can definitely take its toll, but there is a simple way to regain some balance, de-stress and help other people all at once.
Volunteer. Don’t roll your eyes. I know it might seem like you couldn’t possibly find room in your busy schedule. But volunteering in your community even a few hours a day, once a week can improve your mood and make you a happier person.
A 2013 study found the risk of death was 20 percent lower in volunteers than in non-volunteers.
Volunteering also correlates with good mental health, although it is not clear whether a causal relationship exists.
In another survey published in 2013, 76 percent of respondents reported that volunteering helped them feel better physically, and 94 percent said volunteering improved their mood.
Other benefits of volunteering this survey found were lowered stress levels and “a deeper connection to communities and to others.”
If this isn’t enough to convince you, volunteering can also help you learn new skills, explore potential careers, network and make new friends.
And if you’re still thinking you just don’t have the time, there’s hope yet.
According to Forbes magazine, people who spend time volunteering feel like they have more of it.
There are as many ways to volunteer as there are people.
Love animals? Volunteer at an animal shelter or spend one day a week working with abused horses.
Feel passionate about the environment? Work with an organization like the Nature Conservancy or help plant milkweed for monarch butterflies.
Are human rights important to you? Get involved with Amnesty International or give some of your time to organizations in town that provide services to homeless people.
The City of Bloomington maintains a database of volunteer opportunities, which you can find online by searching for the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network.
You can find volunteer opportunities to match your interests and your skills and even opportunities that will help you learn new ones.
So give it a try. Contact an organization you’re interested in volunteering with and ask about opportunities, search the listings in the Volunteer Network or ask your friends who volunteer if you can join.
It will make you feel a lot better about yourself than binge-watching “Criminal Minds” on Netflix.
You’ll also be helping to make the world a better place. What could be more worthwhile than that?