Reach out and help someone; it's good for you (and them)

volunteerSharing your time and talents with someone is likely to provide an immediate burst of good feeling, but did you know that volunteering also can produce long-term health benefits?

Sure, you'd do it, you say, but who has the time? You work a 40-hour (in air quotes) work week; you've got kids, and places to take them; you've got family obligations; and, you would like to point out, the shelves won't restock themselves with groceries and the floors won't vacuum themselves clean.

Fair enough. But all it takes is two hours a week. Yup. That's it. Admit it: you easily spend two (aimless) hours on your smartphone, or two hours watching lousy television, or two hours folding socks that are going to unfold themselves by next week. Why not donate those two hours to something that's going to help enrich your life? Multiple studies say people of all ages who do two or more hours of volunteer work each week (that's about 100 hours a year) are, generally speaking, happier and healthier. Individuals who volunteer have a lower risk for depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and heart disease, and a better life expectancy. Volunteering also gives your self-esteem a boost.

And if all of that isn't enough, consider that volunteering brings joy to the people with whom you're spending time. Whether you hang out with people or animals, read to children or seniors, minister to the sick or the well, the people you help also experience lasting benefits.