There's one thing that's been proven to be more rewarding than money and an instant mood booster. Ironically enough, giving back to others is one of the easiest ways to improve your own physical and mental well-being.
Many studies have focused on the benefits of volunteering. It's so impactful, that volunteering can even make you feel like you have more time in the day. Volunteering also lowers your risk of depression, reduces stress and improves social bonds.
There are countless ways you can volunteer your time to help your fellow man. Keep reading for a list of ideas on ways you can give back and potentially save someone's life:
Blood and Plasma Donation
One of the most important ways people can give back is through blood and plasma donation. Every year, thousands of lives are saved because people took the time to donate. Blood transfusions are needed anytime someone gets injured or has surgery and loses too much blood. They are also required if a person has an illness that kills blood cells.
Plasma is a protein in the blood that helps it clot. A plasma transfusion may be needed after a major surgery, childbirth or an injury that causes a large amount of blood loss. People with illnesses that affect plasma, such as myeloma or liver disease, also need transfusions to stay alive.
Donating Cord Blood Stem Cells
More parents are choosing to preserve and store their newborn's umbilical cord blood and the surrounding tissue because it can save their life or someone else's life. This blood is rich in stem cells that are more beneficial than a bone marrow transplant.
Dozens of diseases, including some cancers, can be effectively treated using these umbilical cord stem cells. Stem cells have the unique ability to transform into other types of cells. This makes it possible for stem cells to correct diseases in the body, especially those that affect blood and bones.
The child can use their own cord stem cells in the event they have a disease, but it can also be used to treat siblings, other family members and perfect strangers. You can make the choice to donate some of the blood at the time of your child's birth or store all of it for later use.
Volunteering at a Suicide Hotline
At some point all of us experience trying times in life that become overwhelming. Suicide hotlines serve as a lifeline for people who are having suicidal thoughts and don't know where to turn. It takes a significant amount of time to get approved and trained, but volunteering as a suicide hotline operator can definitely help save someone's life.
There are crisis centers located around the country to serve the immediate area. Some centers, like the organization RAINN, help people who are experiencing a specific type of trauma while others are general hotlines. Today even teens are getting involved to help their peers that are dealing with family troubles, pressure from friends and bullying. No matter who they help, crisis centers are constantly looking for volunteers because they operate 24/7.
Providing Disaster Relief
During a man-made or natural disaster, thousands of people can be impacted all at once. Organizations like the Red Cross and FEMA help train volunteers and quickly provide relief after a disaster strikes.
These are the moments when people truly need each other. Events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina are reminders of how banding together to help others that are in need can save lives. Simple acts of kindness and support can also help people put their lives back together. When you volunteer with a disaster relief organization, you can provide general support or choose to take on a specific role that may require additional training.
No matter how you choose to help, volunteering will change your life for the better. When we help others, we truly are helping ourselves become better community members and individuals.