2020 has been a dynamic year, continually changing and in flux. From managing a global pandemic and equally uncertain political and economic environments, to adjusting to semi-permanently working from home, we are perpetually learning to find a new balance.

I have found that in times of uncertainty, where the ground feels unsteady, I can achieve a certain level of calm by volunteering and giving back to the community. The more I regularly volunteer, the more productive I am when I return to my routine at work and at home.

Here are four ways that volunteering can improve your daily life, your sense of fulfillment, and your productivity at work.

1) Decrease anxiety.

Having more purpose and decreased anxiety will help you gain mental clarity at work and increase your productivity. Decreased anxiety gives room to energize and build more social connections, resulting in a higher sense of self-esteem.

The Mayo clinic states that a measurable reduction in anxiety comes from volunteering. By spending quality time helping others, you will feel a sense of appreciation, which has shown stress-reducing effects.

Research from the University of Georgia reports that people who volunteer regularly feel better emotionally, mentally, and physically.

2) Develop professional job skills.

Roughly half of all volunteers can use their work skills, such as marketing, management, or finance, in their volunteering activities.

Using these skills, you can aid your career by developing in the following ways:

  • Refining existing professional skills and building new ones.
  • Acquiring job-related contacts and networking opportunities. This is especially important during COVID-19, as we readapt to virtual networking and discover new ways of interaction with our colleagues and community.
  • Honing your collaboration and communication skills by getting involved in top volunteer activities, such as tutoring, teaching, working to prepare and distribute food, and coaching. Put your skills to work with organizations like HireHeroes, which uses volunteers to help coach retired veterans transitioning into civilian life.
  • Improving your people and teamwork skills by engaging with diverse groups of people and new situations.
  • Increasing your time management skills. It takes effort to rearrange schedules from leisure and family activities to make time for others. Volunteering will help you become flexible and learn to prioritize your time and what you value.

3) Increase confidence and leadership opportunities.

Volunteering provides the opportunity to make a tangible impact in someone’s life, confirming your ability to make a real difference.

You could organize a group volunteering event with your coworkers. You’d be directly contributing to a positive work culture, improving employee engagement, and highlighting key leadership skills.

Deloitte has found that 87% of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, with 50% stating that engagement is important. And when employees perform well and contribute to business goals, this gives management more reason to recognize your efforts.

4) Stronger colleague relationships.

Volunteering together with your colleagues can develop a bond that otherwise would not have happened in the workplace. You will be able to connect on deeper level, and perhaps even learn new things about your coworkers.

Even as we continue to social distance, volunteering is a great way to reconnect with your peers. You could organize a virtual card-making session with nonprofits such as Cardz for Kidz and set up a virtual happy hour afterwards. A study by United Health Group found that 64% of employees who currently volunteer said that volunteering with work colleagues has strengthened their relationships.

Level up your productivity with volunteer work. Your decreased anxiety, improved professional skills, increased confidence and leadership opportunities, and strengthened workplace relationships will speak for themselves.

Originally published on Ellevate.