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Our StatePlus planners are often asked the question “What will I do with my spare time?” It’s clear that finding ways to live a happy and meaningful life in retirement is a priority for many retirees. So how can volunteering help?

Feel connected

Volunteering is a great way to connect to your community and to widen your social circle. Many people enjoy having like-minded people to share their passions and interests. Often volunteering is a way to stay involved with an existing hobby or sport. Volunteering can also be a great excuse to do something you’ve never tried before or to learn a new skill. The website is a resource for volunteering opportunities across Australia for a diverse range of causes and activities. You’ll find everything from being a coach for a special Olympics team to helping to build a community garden and everything in between. You can search by your location, your interests and the type of volunteering you want to do.

Improve your mood and your health

94% of people surveyed in a US study by the UnitedHealth Group said volunteering improves their mood.

It makes sense that being involved with something you care about and helping other people will make you feel good. Experts also tell us that altruistic emotions and behaviours are associated with greater well-being, health, and longevity. Studies have even linked volunteering with mortality risk - people who volunteer may live longer than those who don’t. With lifestyle increasingly on the agenda when it comes to staying healthy as we age, volunteering could be one more way to keep the doctor at bay.

Know that you’re needed

The same US study showed that 96% of volunteers reported that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life.

The transition from a structured work day to a lifestyle where you have more freedom can feel like a holiday at first. But without work many people struggle to maintain their sense of purpose. Having a regular commitment is a great way to bring some structure into retired life. Volunteering can give meaning beyond day-to-day living and provide a sense of achievement and accomplishment.

Volunteering gets better with age

A new study recently published by the journal BMJ Open found that when they looked at specific ages groups, the benefits of volunteering vary at different points of life. The study concluded that the association between volunteering and well-being did not emerge during early adulthood to mid-adulthood, instead becoming apparent above the age of 40 years. So if volunteering hasn’t been part of your life to date, now may be the best time to get started!

Want to find out more?

Volunteering Australia is the national peak body for volunteering in Australia. Visit their website to find out more about volunteering in your area

And if you’re thinking about how you can do the things you want to in retirement a StatePlus planner is always happy to have a chat. Call us on 1800 620 305.

Related articles for you

Association of volunteering with mental well-being: a lifecourse analysis of a national population-based longitudinal study in the UK, Faiza Tabassum, John Mohan, Peter Smith published 8 August 2016. 
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