In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of overcoming isolation and gaining a sense of community for increasing positive mental health. We'll explain what isolation is and the effects it can have on our mental health and well-being. We'll also provide tips on how to build a sense of community to combat loneliness and negative emotions.
In today’s world, it is increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy mental state when it comes to connecting with others and feeling a sense of community, we can go entire days only communicating through our phones or computers, but is that really a connection? It is possible to learn how to overcome feelings of isolation and loneliness in order to gain a sense of community. This post will discuss the various ways to do this, both online and offline, so that anyone can make meaningful social connections and find a community.
The Impact of Isolation
Isolation can have a profound psychological and physical impact on an individual. Studies suggest that prolonged periods of social isolation are associated with an array of negative health outcomes, such as poorer mental health, lower satisfaction with life, and a greater risk for physical illness. Isolation can lead to a deep sense of loneliness that is linked to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. For this reason, it is important to nurture and maintain meaningful connections with those around us. It's unclear whether humans are "pack animals" but we often gravitate towards socialisation and love with others. Some people require this more regularly than others. Our interactions aren't always fun, some can put a strain on our mental health or cause us to feel anger or pain, but they are important for development. The covid lockdowns proved this. Over the span of the two years, there was a dramatic increase in addiction, mental illness and suicide.
How to increase your socialisation:
Mental illness such as anxiety or depression can cause an increased feeling of isolation. There is a stigma of embarrassment or burden that comes along with it, but we can't expect to improve by maintaining the barriers we put up to protect ourselves from feeling it.
Make plans: Making plans in advance may seem daunting and you may worry as it comes closer, but having time in the diary for socialisation of any kind will increase your confidence and get you into the practice of simple tasks such as leaving the house or going to a coffee shop, which can be mammoth feats when struggling with anxiety. It will remind you of the joy of company and conversation and the more dates you put in the diary the easier it should get.
Howbout is a great app for finding time with your friends, as you get older and life takes over, you might feel increasingly isolated, apps such as this will help you all make time for each other by identifying times when you are free to get together.
Be spontaneous: This may seem in complete contradiction to the above tip, but as anyone with an anxiety disorder will know, it can come around at any time and put a stopper in your day. It's important to grab the moments when it's not around to push yourself. Sometimes I would wake up in the morning and feel ok. Anxiety hadn't got its claws in yet. I've never got dressed and left my house so fast in my life, taking that anxiety-free time to get something done can prove to you that ultimately it can be done!
Discovery Journals Anxiety Jotter is designed especially to help you make and stick to plans during the week without anxiety taking hold. You set yourself targets and rewards for the week, setting out what you'd like to accomplish the night before making it easier to stay on course. Get the jotter for just £7.50 on Discovery Journal.
Start small: You may be in a place where you aren't sure how much interaction you can manage, maybe start off with a few phone calls and texts, build up your interaction in a safe space and decide from there whether you feel comfortable having someone come over, or going out for an hour or two.
An online community is a gathering of people who share similar passions, interests, and goals, and who communicate and interact with each other on the Internet. It's a virtual space where members can discuss topics, share information, and connect with each other regardless of physical location or time zone. An online community allows people to come together and collaborate online when they would otherwise not be able to meet in person. Common uses for online communities include discussion boards, Q&A forums, messaging groups, and blog/social media communities. Each of these platforms allows members to engage with each other and create meaningful relationships with peers and experts in a variety of industries and walks of life. You may find it beneficial to connect with others who have a similar or the same mental illness, give each other confidence and discover you really aren't alone.
An online community can come in many different forms, from web forums and discussion boards to social media groups to blogs. These types of communities are often used to allow people to share their experiences and feelings, create content, and collaborate with each other. While the topics may vary, the common goal of an online community is to foster authentic connections and collaboration between its members. Always remember to be careful on the internet, and don't share any personal information or sensitive financial information, unfortunately, not everyone is so genuine and this is something to be mindful of.
Side-by-Side (Mind): Mind's online forums allow you to safely communicate and share stories of support with others about mental health. Making connections by discussing what is preventing you from doing so can be a positive step in the right direction.
Mumsnet: Mumsnet is an online community by parents for parents, to share stories, and gain advice and insight into parenting and the struggles of being a parent. This is a transitional stage in life, having support from an online community such as this can help you navigate the changes more easily while feeling supported.
Practical Tips for Developing Connections and Finding Community
When you're trying to find your community and build relationships, the key is to be genuinely interested in the people you're interacting with. Trying to establish a connection can be intimidating, but it's essential to breaking the ice and getting to know someone better, playing games such as 10 Questions can be a good starting point and you might even have a few laughs. Listening and actively engaging with people is always a great way to make a positive first impression, as people are much more likely to respond to someone who showcases genuine curiosity and care. Take your time to get to know people, and don't be afraid to reach out beyond your comfort zone. You never know who you might meet or the conversations that you could have!
Men's Shed: Providing support and guidance to individuals and groups across the UK in starting and managing Men’s Sheds. Men's Sheds raises awareness of the social and health benefits of Men’s Sheds in reducing isolation, and loneliness and empowering local communities. Men’s Sheds (or Sheds) are similar to garden sheds – a place to pursue practical interests at leisure, practice skills and enjoy making and mending.
Isolation can be detrimental to a person’s mental health and can prevent them from forming meaningful connections and finding a community. However, by following practical tips and taking advantage of both online and offline communities, it is possible to overcome feelings of isolation and gain a sense of community that can help improve mental health and overall well-being.