07 Jul

 According to a KFF research and health tracking poll. The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession has negatively affected many peoples mental and emotional health. It reports 4 out of 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. Coupling that with a reported increased use of alcohol and substance abuse. 

Further research has shown the pandemic highlighted a world in mental health crisis. Individuals felt isolated and alone. Studies conducted have discovered a major increase in depression and anxiety from 11% reported in January 2019 to 41% in January 2021 according to the KFF report. The commonality of the isolation and the unknown has led to overwhelmed mental health system. 

If we are to recover from isolation induced mental health disorders. We as communities need to come together and heal through collective support. Strong engaging communities are safer, healthier and happier Studies have proven when we strengthen the bonds of community. Making positive connections makes us feel like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves and we become more resilient. This resilience can help for not only this pandemic but for future challenges knowing as an individual we can rely on our communities for support. 

Bringing individuals together through joy filled events and shared fun & laughter helps build healthy, resilient communities. Here are a few simple ways we can start building and rebuilding healthy happy communities (of course always practicing social safety guidelines). 

  • Block Party, A new twist for a traditional block party that everyone can enjoy. Its time to reintroduce ourselves after the year. As for most of us this year has changed our perspective on the way we live. This is a time to bring the “what worked” best for us forward. Set some time aside to have a lemonade or ice cream social at a common area and share what you have learned, what new habits did you create that helped you.

           What new craft or hobby did you pick up?. I myself learned more about bike tune-ups and repairs           that I can share or barter with others. Form a day where you can trade with each month and offer           trades. 

  • Turn your front yard into your back yard. Put a picnic table up and/or some lawn chairs. Relax, read or have some lawn games.  This is a great way to interact and bring a sense of community to your neighbors Bonus: have the kid put up a lemonade or hotdog stand sure to get people to stop and the kids can make a few bucks.
  • Start a lending library. Whether it is a book, tool or dvd library. Sharing always strengthens a community.

  • Spread Kindness. A simple act of kindness can have a major positive impact on a community.  Look out for elderly neighbors by checking on them, spending a minute to chat with them, or picking up something at the store for them.  Help mow a lawn or shovel snow for those that might have difficulties doing so. Pick up newspapers or mail or water plants for someone who may be going out of town. Simple acts as waving and saying hello on you walk also go a long way to help build community.

  • Volunteer. Is there something that helped you through the pandemic? Maybe it was those cute and silly pet pictures you saw on social media that helped you through and now you could volunteer at a pet shelter. Or maybe feeling the loneliness of isolation has led you to volunteer at a senior house. Whatever the reason, volunteering always positively impact a community.

As we come out of this year it is important to remember, though we may not have been in the same boat, all of us were in the same storm. Most (if not all) can appreciate the small things that helped us through the isolation of the pandemic. Whether it was a new skill we learned, zoom calls with family, or the realization of what we appreciate and what we can do without. Building and rebuilding strong, happy communities is important to the healing process and all of our mental and emotional wellbeing.

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