Being part of a community allows you to feel like you’re involved in something bigger (and greater) than yourself. You’re not alone, and you can lean on the people in your community to be there for you. It’s no wonder why creating a healthy, diverse, and inclusive community can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health.
But, what does a good community actually consist of, and how will immersing yourself and doing your part benefit your health?
A healthy community is one that allows different people from all walks of life work together for the greater good. People help each other, look out for each other, and give/do what they can to bring the greatest health benefits to themselves and others. A healthy community is always well-prepared. And in a world where the COVID-19 pandemic is still a threat, strong communities are more important than ever.
So, what can you do to make sure your community is a healthy and prepared one?
Keeping Your Community Healthy
Health should be a major focus for communities and individuals alike right now. The healthier you are, as a whole, the more prepared you’ll be against things like viruses and other threats. Now, more than ever, staying healthy is important because it might not be as easy as it once was to receive medical attention.
There is currently a physician shortage in the U.S., and while your neighborhood might not be directly affected yet, it could be impacted if enough people get sick and can’t get the care they need. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to focus on community health, including:
- Planting a community garden
- Reducing neighborhood waste
- Encouraging park development
- Planting trees
- Shopping locally
You can also encourage “walkability” within your community. Parks and rural areas are great for that, but simply having a pedestrian-focused community with walkways and paths will encourage people to spend time outdoors, socializing, and staying active. Not only can it bring your neighborhood closer together, but it can help everyone to stay more physically fit. Hosting walking/running events is a good way to get people motivated to use those paths, and they can further strengthen the overall support for neighborhood events.
Keeping Your Community Involved
A strong community is about more than just promoting physical health. Focusing on emotional and mental wellness is important, and you can get many people on board with that idea by encouraging involvement and engagement. You can start at home by doing things like:
- Researching what local officials are doing
- Seeking out volunteer opportunities
- Encouraging wellness programs in local workplaces
Starting support groups is another wonderful way to help people feel more connected with each other while providing them with a safe space to open up. Healthcare workers are crucial right now – including those who work in mental health. But, you may have to look outside your community for mental health help.
Thankfully, there has been a major boom in teletherapy throughout the pandemic, giving almost anyone access to the mental health help they need. If you want to help members of your community reach out to a professional, consider talking to businesses about creating public WiFi spaces, like the library or the local school gym, after hours. Giving people the opportunity to connect with others who might be struggling, as well as mental health professionals, can make a big difference – especially in rural communities.
Keeping Your Community Safe
When people feel safe and secure in their neighborhood, they’re less likely to experience stress and anxiety. Feeling secure also encourages people to step out of their comfort zones and engage with others while taking better care of themselves.
Healthy communities are often the safest communities as they focus on things like violence prevention and reduced crime rates. You can encourage that attitude in your community by addressing any existing safety issues and developing prevention strategies.
That might include things like a neighborhood watch group, working with a local security system company to talk to the community about alarm systems, or just establishing a “see something, say something” strategy where people can submit tips about any violence or suspicious activities going around in town.
If possible, get involved with your local government. At the very least, attend meetings that will allow you to speak up and get people interested in safety preparedness plans. The more people who are on board, the easier it will be to put those plans in motion.
A good community is one that focuses on each puzzle piece, and what happens when all those pieces come together.
Is it important to take care of yourself and your family first? Of course. If everyone in a tight-knit community started at home, it would be much easier to establish a strong neighborhood foundation. But, don’t let your work on yourself distract you from taking care of others, too.