What are you plans for the 4th of the July? For some of us, Independence Day might include having a cookout at a friends’ house, going for a hike with your dog, taking the kids swimming or watching fireworks with your neighbors. You may notice that all of these things having something in common; spending time with others (yes, pets included!).
As humans we desire to have social connections with others and a sense of community is important for not only for our pride in our country but for our physical and mental well-being. As social creatures, we are wired to stay connected as a survival instinct in order to thrive. Throughout history, groups of people lived in close knit communities, held close relationships with neighbors and there were multiple generations of families living in a single home. When we look at our society today, we see much more solitude and independence. Having a sense of self and being responsible as an individual is not a bad thing, however too much alone time could result in isolating tendencies which can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. We may not always see the importance in nurturing our social relationships however; having a sense of belonging is one of our essential needs as human beings, in addition to water, food and shelter.
So how can we work to improve our social connections and create a greater sense of community (regardless of age, gender, race or political orientation)? Here are some tips to get started:
- Go Outside: Take a walk in your neighborhood. Bake your neighbor cookies or mow your neighbor’s lawn. Start a conversation with someone who you don’t typically engage with and get to know them.
- Look for Local Events: Get involved in your community. Go to a concert, attend a play or cheer on your local baseball team.
- Talk about your passions: When you share your passions with others you feel more fulfilled and in return have the opportunity to learn something new from someone else!
- Volunteer: Organize a yard sale for charity, visit a senior center, volunteer at a soup kitchen or tutor a student.
- Ask for help: We may feel like turning to others for help is a sign of weakness, when in reality asking your community for help during a hard time helps create a larger bond and facilitate the opportunity for everyone to grow.
- Shop Locally: Give back to your community by shopping and eating at local stores, boutiques, cafes and restaurants.By: Melissa Major, MHC-LP