By: Grace Gufler
The Coronavirus pandemic has limited many of our social outlets and forced us to cut some ties with our community. As a result, many people feel lonely, isolated, lost and without support. Social distancing has removed many of our previous outlets for social engagement, entertainment, friendship, sense of belonging and connectedness. The more limited to our homes we become, and as fear and anxiety continued to increase; many people are struggling with a disconnect from their community and support systems. Community is important for several reasons and is viewed as a high priority value for many people. Community helps us feel connected to other people, and connection generates a sense of safety, belonging and purpose in being a part of something bigger than us.
A sense of community satisfies some basic human needs that are important in maintaining mental health and overall wellbeing. This includes feeling secure in the world as we develop trust in the environment and people around us. This encourages us to feel confident and comfortable to explore, learn, grow, take risks and develop close relationships with others. A lack of community can lead to feelings of anxiety, trepidation, doubt, insecurity and instability. As a result, problems can arise such as anxiety, depression, lack of communication skills, inability to maintain healthy relationships, social withdrawal and stress. Therefore, it is important that we are mindful of ways to continue to stay connected to our community during the Coronavirus pandemic. Check out some creative ways to continue to be a part of your community while social distancing.
- Technology: where would we all be at without technology right now? Technology is making it possible for people to work from home and still stay socially connected. Set up video calls with friends, play online games together, eat dinner together or chat while watching a movie together. Be creative and be intentional about it! The more intentional we are about our social time, the more rewarding and satisfying it will feel!
- Support Local Business: an important aspect of community is the feeling that we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves by making a difference and supporting a neighbor. One way to do this during Covid-19 is to find ways to support your local businesses. Order take out, donate to a go fund me or order goods online.
- Act of Kindness: when we perform an act of kindness for someone else, we often experience our own boost in dopamine and serotonin which helps us feel happy and regulates our mood. Here are some examples: set up a basket of snacks for UPS/Amazon/USPS/FedEx to say thank you for continuing to work, make masks for hospitals or other essential employees, donate to a charity, cook dinner for a neighbor or reach out to friend to check in on how they are doing. Engaging in an act of kindness is a great way to continue to feel connected to your community.
- Gratitude: a positive outcome of being a part of a community is that strong feeling of gratitude for the people in your life. We rely on others and it is ok to admit that. Everyone likes to feel needed, important, recognized and that they make a difference. While social distancing our own sense of gratitude may diminish, and negative feelings may become infrequent. It is understandable to feel frustrated, stressed and down about the unfair circumstances we find ourselves in now. To help combat some of those negative emotions, it can be helpful to make time for gratitude. Write a thank you note for your mail carrier, send a letter to a friend, or use sidewalk chalk to write a note for your neighbors. These are tough times, but don’t forget to acknowledge the good around you as well.
I hope this blog post help you continue to feel connected to your community while this pandemic continues. The adjustments and sacrifices we are making during Covid-19 are challenging and it will take some time to adjust to this new way of life. Be patient with yourself, check in with the people around you and make time for the positive. Covid-19 is an opportunity to develop a stronger and more united community. This is a time where we have a lot in common with the people around us. We are all struggling with being at home so much, dealing with anxiety and fear, and wondering when life will return to normal. We all need each other a little more right now, so let’s make an effort to continue to be a strong, united and supportive community.