Happy Mental Health Awareness Week! Get Involved

5 ways volunteering contributes to your mental health

This year, the focus of Mental Health Week is nature. Why? We believe that, especially after this year, we can all understand the reason. If we didn’t before, we now appreciate nature more than ever since the pandemic hit earlier last year.

After lockdowns, closing of businesses, curfews, and all together separation of our normal lives, many of us took to the outdoors and daily walks outside for comfort. Wider studies found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were appreciating it more. And this goes hand in hand with wanting to get involved with nature and conservation. 

And with this – there’s a new wave of volunteering! For instance, at Toucan Rescue Ranch, we welcome volunteers 18+, and from all over the world, no matter how much or how little you know about wildlife! 

But – how does volunteering contribute to your mental health?

It fights loneliness and isolation

Especially since the pandemic, we have never felt more isolated from others. Our routines have changed – we work from home, don’t see others in person often, can’t frequent the same places, or at least, it’s different now. Even if we’re still socially distancing, coming and volunteering with others brings a lot of emotional closeness to each of us. It gives us something to do outside of our homes and ultimately brings you the connections we all really need. 

Satisfaction levels go up

Joining a movement where you can see first hand the changes you are making in society, makes your satisfaction levels go up. You feel useful, important, involved, and overall, just happier, by being part of a cause that believes in the greater good!

Connects you with a cause bigger than yourself – and it separates you from your problems

Sometimes we get overwhelmed by our own problems, and those problems consume us that it feels like there’s no way out. By joining a bigger cause you believe in – whichever that could be – gives you a break from normal life. It separates you from issues that are part of your day-to-day, and it gives you the perspective you might be looking for to approach them differently. Joining causes can be the perfect way to take a break, pause, and reevaluate. 

Decreases levels of depression

According to a study by Royal Voluntary Service in 2012, volunteers who felt connected to the cause they participated in reported a greater decrease in feelings of depression than those who do not volunteer!

It benefits your physical health as well

There are loads of studies relating volunteering with physical health – due to the activity and movement it usually requires. For instance, one famous study in 2014 found that 200 hours of volunteering per year correlated to lower blood pressure, whilst other studies have found health benefits from as little as 100 hours of volunteering annually. 

Are you looking for a challenge that will bring you all these mental health benefits?  Volunteering at the Toucan Rescue Ranch can bring you closer to nature. Our volunteers get a chance to learn about each animal that comes through our gates, take care of the daily needs of our sanctuary wildlife, connect with people from all over the world, and get involved with wildlife conservation right on the grounds! 

Sounds like your cup of tea? Join the Toucan Rescue Ranch’s Volunteer Program and get involved with wildlife conservation in Costa Rica like never before!

About the writer: 
Mariana Diaz, born and raised in Costa Rica, has been part of the Marketing Team at Toucan Rescue Ranch since late 2020. With a background in Media for Development and Social Change, Social Work, and Graphic Design, she supports communications and all things media!

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