Volunteering means donating your free time to help others in need. This very definition is one of the reasons that so few people end up volunteering; free time is precious and needed for both mental and physical health. While there are many who would love to help others, the thought of giving up their well-earned free time off from work and other responsibilities leaves many people queasy and unwilling. With so few vacation days in the American work life, it’s no wonder people hold on so hard to their free time! However, studies are starting to show the unexpected; volunteering your free time actually makes it feel like you have more free time.
The physical and mental benefits of volunteering are well-known and I myself have documented and written blogs about some of them. But something new is giving me pause due to the fact that it literally would’ve never crossed my mind. A new study from researchers at the University of Zurich has shown that people who volunteer feel as though they are much more in control of their work-life balance and feel as though they have more free time to spare. How is this possible? Wouldn’t the knowledge that you’re donating your free time to work mean that you would feel the exact opposite? It seems as though that’s not the case and what it is instead is just one more reason pointing out that volunteering is both good for you and for other people.
However this isn’t the first study to help prove this to be the case. A study published in 2012 by researchers from the Wharton School of UPenn, Yale’s School of Management, and Harvard Business School found that people who volunteer to help others feel as though they have more time to themselves. The study says that spending your time helping others makes you feel effective and like you’ve accomplished a lot. This means that when you spend time alone and relaxing, you feel as though you’ve earned it and deserve it more. The fact that volunteering makes people think that they have more free time, even when they don’t, is just another reason to help others who need it!
If you’d like to read more, the link is here.