Friday, January 23, 2009

Funky To Fabulous: Volunteering For Virgins -- A First-Timers Guide To Giving

Do you have a pal that pooh-poohs the concept of volunteering?

Here are some reasons to discover the luscious experience of serving your fellow humans.

Rx for Better Health

Who knew that volunteering is good for you? Science is beginning to discover that there are concrete physical, and emotional benefits to giving to others. Perhaps, you have a vague notion that volunteering is "good for the soul" but have little, if any, concrete evidence that philanthropy could be good for your health.

In More Give to Live, Douglas Lawson cites research that shows how helping others lead to enhanced health and emotional well-being. Numerous studies report that those involved in ongoing volunteer programs have an enhanced immune system, improved cardiovascular circulation as well as better sleep patterns. Emotionally those involved in philanthropic work a better sense of control over one's life and circumstances, increased ability to cope with crisis as well as stronger feelings of personal satisfaction, compassion and empathy.

The Helper's High

If you did service on the National Day of service you may have just had a brush with 'Helper's High' yourself. If you were like me you felt a great rush of feeling good from doing good. If not you may have felt this phenomenon another time. How do you feel when you finish a long run or a tough workout? Until the pain sinks in you probably feel fantastic. Strenuous exercise releases endorphins. That release creates an elated feeling known as the runners high. Have you ever left a day of working with your favorite good cause with more energy than you began with? That could be due to a similar endorphin response. A charity in New York City recently conducted a survey of 3,300 volunteers. Many experienced feelings of euphoria while being involved in their service project. The volunteers compared the experience to the runner's high - when a person runs and exerts, but instead of feeling more stressed, one feels more relaxed and joyous.

Anti-Aging Too!

Sure, giving makes you feel better. It may be a key factor in living longer as well. Dr. Stephanie Brown and her colleagues at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan conducted an important study recently. Dr. Brown and her team tracked 423 older couples over a 5-year period. The people who reported giving no support to others were more than twice as likely to die during the five years of the study as those who helped others. The simple act of giving to neighbors, a spouse, relative or friends gave people a 50% better chance of living longer. Her study gives clear evidence that giving is good for your health.

How has serving impacted you? Please let me know!

Ask Eli a question at or go to to tell me your experience with volunteering.

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized executive coach and motivationalspeaker.

Her book, "Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for The Savvy, Sassyand Swamped", (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards.

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