Do you like where you live? Do you feel safe and secure in your neighbourhood? Do you belong to and participate in local community events or a group that makes a difference?
Our communities sustain us in ways we often fail to consider. When we feel connected we strengthen our sense of belonging, and when we share our skills and abilities with others, we feel a part of something larger than ourselves. This is the power of community.
While today most people live in large urban areas, we are engaging less in community. As a result, we suffer increasingly from lack of belonging and social isolation. In spite of our digital connectedness and social media connections, a growing number of people are experiencing social anxiety and symptoms such as loneliness and depression.
Our society has adopted a survival-of-the-fittest mentality and an over-emphasis on the importance of independence and individuality.
But Charles Darwin himself, who coined the term “survival of the fittest” later in life emphasized the importance of social relationships and community: “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
In his book, The Art of Belonging, Hugh Mackay suggests “a ‘good life’ is not lived in isolation or in the pursuit of independent goals; a good life is lived at the heart of a thriving community, among people we trust, and within an environment of mutual respect.”
Developing Community Wellbeing requires intentional planning and a commitment to contributing to something bigger than ourselves.
Enjoy the benefits of Community Wellbeing:
Giving and being part of community feeds our connection to others, provides us with opportunities to make contributions that outlast even us. Joining a new group, and meeting new people can feel risky.
But the benefits far outweigh the risks. Solitary confinement can literally drive inmates to experience hallucinations, paranoia and panic attacks. Widows and widowers have a 66% greater chance of dying within the first 6 months of the loss of a spouse, particularly if they don’t have the connections and support of a caring community.
Some people, of course, have extreme cases of social anxiety, who experience panic attacks at the thought of walking out their door. If you struggle with just going outside, we can help.
But for most of us, taking steps to get involved can quickly lead to an increased sense of belonging, and feeling more connected is just a few steps away.
What can you do?
Here are some ways you might improve your community wellbeing, and as a result the quality of your life:
- take group music or voice lessons
- revisit a favorite art or craft
- offer or take lessons in a trade
- join a community garden
- coach little league
- join a team
- join a group of survivors
- take a course or join a study group
- join a book club
- host or participate in annual family events – vacations, picnics, birthday gatherings
- buy season ticket for a college/university team – and go support them!
- volunteer or join a charity of your choosing
- get involved in local politics
- help out at a soup kitchen or food bank
- work with a group to solve a community problem
- find a church, mosque, synagogue, temple etc.
- take part in yoga or meditation
- look into supporting or sponsoring immigrants or refugees
- spend more time with a group for pet owners
- join a parenting group
- provide support for our veterans
- get involved with an environmental group
- join a motorcycle or antique car club
- join a photography club
- volunteer at a local hospital
- help out at an annual community event
- be a big brother or sister
- Cook or bake for a social cause
- Prepare dinner for a family in need
The list of course, is only limited by your imagination!
If you know community wellbeing would benefit you, but need more help getting involved, or struggle with fear, anxiety, contact us.