The Emotional Benefits of Volunteering When You’re Unemployed

by Veronica Bowman
The Financial and Emotional Benefits of Volunteering photo

Has life given you some unplanned free time in the form of unemployment? See how volunteering can benefit you emotionally and possibly financially in your quest for a new job.

When a hectic, financially comfortable lifestyle comes to a halt due to job loss, that unexpected abundance of free time and decrease in the budget can lead to some negative emotions.

Getting involved with one or more organizations that need volunteers can have a positive affect on your new situation. Volunteering is a way to stay actively involved in your community, have some unexpected fun, make new friendships, and possibly land a new job.

Volunteering can boost you self-esteem after losing a job

In the words of Dr. Louise Hart, “Self-esteem is as important to our well being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness.”

Experts note that job loss can lead to a feeling of low self-esteem. Without a job, an excess amount of free time can begin to feel like a burden. Committing a portion of that free time to helping others gives you purpose and can boost your self-esteem.

Volunteering can help keep you busy while unemployed

An extended period of unemployment can take its toll on you in various ways. You may become less interested in physical activity. Socializing may be an activity you seek to avoid or feel that you can’t afford to engage in.

As a volunteer, agreeing to be present at a specific time to offer services gives you a reason to venture out of the house. Other than the cost of gas to get you where you’re going, volunteering is a free activity.

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Volunteering can help keep you physically active

There are numerous volunteer opportunities that will help you stay physically active while you’re looking for new employment.

According to the information complied in a report entitled The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review Of Recent Research, “Volunteering and physical well-being are part of a positive reinforcing cycle.” There are numerous volunteer opportunities that will help you stay physically active while you’re looking for new employment. Just a few examples of volunteer options that involve physical activity are helping with a youth sports team, volunteering at competitions, and assisting disabled youth with sports related events.

Volunteering allows you to socialize

Volunteering at a “meet and greet” animal adoption fair or working at a festival booth for a specific charity, gives you an opportunity to converse and socialize with numerous people. There’s always a possibility that you will discover a lead to an employment opportunity while talking with others at these events.

You will certainly get a reprieve from dwelling on your personal situation while in the midst of a festive atmosphere and while conversing with a steady flow of people passing by.

Volunteering can have mental benefits, too

If you do something that gets you directly involved with those you are helping like working in a soup kitchen, handing out bags of pantry staples or building a wheelchair ramp, you will instantly be rewarded. Your spirit will be lifted when you see the smile and feel the gratitude of the person you helped.

Some volunteer activity involves helping those you will never actually come in contact with. You may only see pictures of children or adults who have benefited from your work or you may read notes of thanks that have been sent to the organization. In all of these situations, you will feel encouraged and uplifted, knowing you have played a part in making a positive difference in someone’s life.

Becoming reclusive during financially trying times is not physically, mentally, or emotionally healthy. Joining with other volunteers to improve the quality of life for others can also make your life better. New friendships develop when people unite for a common cause. You will have the opportunity to form friendships with people you would probably have never met if you hadn’t joined them in a volunteer effort.

Volunteering can help in your job search

Volunteering may lead to the discovery of new interests that will cause you to redirect your job search. You may uncover passions that have gotten suppressed due to a hectic lifestyle. You may discover new talents that you never imagined having.

Sometimes, you will find that what appeared to be an unfortunate situation is actually an opportunity for change that will have long-term positive affects on your life and on your family. The title of an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal by Dana Mattioli, “The Laid Off Can Do Well By Doing Good,” very accurately and simplistically provides motivational support for becoming a volunteer when life tosses you some unexpected free time.

Reviewed January 2023

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