We all know that volunteering to help others is good for others: good for the homeless who visit the soup kitchen where you serve food; good for the at-risk kids whom you tutor; good for the elderly whom you visit at the senior center; good for the blind to whom you read.
But did you also know it’s good for your brain? According to one Alzheimer’s society, becoming a volunteer improves physical and mental well-being, builds self-esteem, expands your social network, and can lead to a longer, more robust life. Helping others literally rewires your brain while also making you feel good inside.
Where to begin? One place is the Senior Corps where you can plug in your name and be matched with an organization near you that needs your help. Or figure out where your strengths lie, and match yourself with an organization in your town that could use your skills. Are you a good writer? Tutor children. Are you an empathic friend? There are plenty of people who could use your care and attention. Are you good with your hands? Habitat for Humanity could always use the extra help.
Start small, if you’d like. Volunteer to bring food to someone who’s sick in your neighborhood. Help an elderly person across the street. Each act of kindness is a four-pronged gift: to the person you’re helping, to you, to society at large, and to your future cognitive health.