KEY POINTS-

  • Experiencing a sense of belonging is vital for our psychological well-being.
  • A community can provide us with a sense of belonging, support, and identity.
  • There are specific ways that everyone can connect to and create a community.
Courtesy of Samantha Stein
 
Source: Courtesy of Samantha Stein

Experiencing a sense of belonging is vital for our psychological well-being. Being a part of a healthy community can help us feel connected to others, as well as feel we’re part of something larger than ourselves.

This is especially important for people who’ve experienced trauma or loss, or who are feeling isolated, marginalized, bullied, or alone. For those, and for all of us, a community can provide that necessary sense of belonging.

 

A community provides belonging, support, and identity

Being a part of a healthy community can also provide us with support. When we’re going through a difficult time, it can be enormously helpful to have people who we can turn to. Community members can offer us emotional support, practical help, and advice. They can also help us to feel we aren’t alone in our struggles.

 

A community can also help us to develop a sense of identity. When we’re part of a community, we learn about shared values and beliefs. We also learn about our history and culture. This can help us feel we have a place in the world, and that we are part of something important.

Community reduces stress and isolation

 

Finally, a community can also help to reduce stress and isolation. When we’re part of a community, we have people to talk to and connect with. This can help us to feel less alone—and therefore less stressed—as well as help us feel we’re part of something larger than ourselves. Research shows that people who are part of strong communities tend to have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of obesity. They are also more likely to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.

 

Thus, community helps reduce stress and isolation and, ultimately, benefits our physical health in addition to our mental health.

There are a number of ways to connect

There are a number of ways to connect to a community. Joining a club or organization with people who share your identity or values can be a ready-made way to connect. Joining a church or spiritual community can be a way to connect with people who share your values and beliefs. Support groups—led by mental health professionals, lay-led, or meetings such as 12-step programs—can provide support, reduce stress, and promote mental health.

 

Another avenue for community connection is through volunteering your time or attending community events. Even getting to know your neighbors and building relationships with them can provide a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation.

Finding community can feel a little daunting, but it’s well worth the effort, providing relief from the pain that lack of connection, support, and experiences of isolation can bring.