When you choose to set aside time in your busy week to help others, you also help yourself. Studies have proven for years that doing something for others not only improves your community, but also yourself.

Just moved to the neighborhood and want to meet new people? Volunteer. Having trouble finding “your clique” at school? Volunteer. Going through a tough time and don’t want to be alone? Volunteer. One of the great benefits of volunteering or community service is the ability to connect with others who want to make a difference. You’ll be surrounded by people who care about others, and that’s a pretty strong belief to have in common from the start.

That meaningful connection you build can also be great for you psychologically. Spending time with others while doing something positive is proven to alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety.

You also never know who you may connect with while volunteering, and could make connections that help your career. While cleaning up your local garden together, you might find out your volunteer buddy has an opening at his company that urgently needs to be filled.

Giving back to your community is worth it just to make a difference, but take advantage of the differences you can make in your own life. Improved mental health, valuable friendships, and possible business connections are just three of the many reasons volunteering is more than worth your time.

Here are some organizations always looking for volunteers. You can also do some research and find organizations that are based in your local area as well.