Don’t think of the Martin Luther King day holiday as a day off; instead consider it your annual opportunity to serve and follow Dr. King’s vision of a better community!

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday became a federal holiday in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1994 that Congress designated the holiday as a national day of service. The MLK Day of Service now serves to empower individuals to create solutions to social problems, strengthen communities, and bridge barriers.

Honor Dr. King’s legacy through service on Monday, January 20th because you care and because of these three benefits:

It’s Good for Business

A  2013 study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of UnitedHealth Group found that 81 percent of employees agree that relationships were strengthened among colleagues who volunteered through their workplace. If your place of employment offers volunteer opportunities, now is the time to take advantage!

It Helps Your Heart — And Your Overall Physical Health

Research from Carnegie Mellon University has found that people who spend at least 200 hours per year helping others are 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure four years later than those who don’t, regardless of the type of activity performed. In fact, helping others has even been found to protect overall health as much as aspirin protects against heart disease.

It Benefits Your Emotional Well-Being

When you help others, you help yourself. In a study of thousands of volunteers across the United States, people who volunteered not only reported better health than peers who didn’t volunteer, but 43 percent also felt stronger and more energetic, 22 percent felt calmer and less depressed, and 21 percent had greater feelings of self-worth. In addition, when you help others, your body is likely releasing oxytocin, a “compassion hormone” that helps buffer stress while increasing social trust and serenity.

Find our list of our favorite nonprofits to volunteer with in “12 Nonprofits You Should Celebrate Today!

Where will you volunteer on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day?