"A sense of belonging to a greater community improves your motivation, health, and happiness." Karyn Hall (2013)
One cannot build healthy communities if everyone stays locked in their respective homes. Historically, we defined a community as a geographical location where people live; however, we now know that a community isn't a physical place. It is a group of people interacting, sharing, and working toward a common aim. This shift in perspective allows for the inclusion of off- and on-line; ethnic and cultural ones spanning space (and time), and intersectional ones working toward shared goals.
At its root, a community is about connectedness, fellowship, and belonging. Our fixation with likes, follows, and retweets may have given us a false sense of connectedness. However, 2020 solidified what researchers have long said--social connections are vital to our health and happiness. The opposite is also true. Lack of social relationships can lead to increased levels of depression, suicidal ideation, and health-related issues.
During periods of hardship, we are sustained by feelings of connectedness, "the degree to which a person or group is socially close, interrelated, or shares resources with other persons or groups." There is comfort in knowing we are not alone in our struggles. It fosters an environment where people feel safe and supported.
Call to Action: Reengage your sense of community by getting out of your home (and head) a few days a week and connecting with others. And that even if you have to wear a mask.
Darlene is a Community Consultant and Health Education Warrior, committed to helping people, families, and communities enhance their social wellness.