Benefits of Being in Community…and How to Find it!

By Jourdan Bartels, LPC-Associate
Supervised by Jennifer Buffalo, LPC-S, LMFT

In today’s post-pandemic digital age, it’s not uncommon for people to find themselves feeling isolated. It can be challenging to navigate making new connections and maintaining old ones in a time when many people work from home, take classes online, or are struggling with their own mental health. The difficulty – and irony – in this is that being in community with others helps protect us from mental health struggles, but mental health struggles can keep us isolated. Sometimes it helps to have some places to start when we want to try something new and challenging.

Benefits of community

  • Having a social support system helps mitigate mental health struggles, increasing resilience to adversity. A sense of belonging, and knowing you can rely on others, is a powerful tool for our minds and bodies. Isolation takes a huge toll on us as humans – we are meant to be in connection with others.
  • When we are in community, we can share coping strategies, process stress together, and provide one another relief, which in turn, strengthens our individual abilities to cope and manage stress.
  • Lastly, being in a community can help mobilize us by providing a sense of empowerment, accountability, and motivation. Increasing these parts of our internal and external worlds can help us make difficult changes in our lives and take charge where we can.

How to find community

  • Use any connections you already have! You can expand a good professional relationship with a coworker to become a personal friendship. Try to make connections with your existing friends’ friends.
  • Go to events, classes, and similar gatherings related to your interests, identities, and passions. Volunteering is also an option, if you’ve got the time. Investing time, being present, and open to connections at events related to what you care about can be a great way to find like-minded people.
  • Become a regular at your favorite places. Going to the same coffee shops or exercise classes in a consistent routine may lead you to see the same patrons or workers, who you might build a connection with over time.
  • Use the internet to your advantage! Search for events and organizations that you’re interested in, or that are specifically geared towards building community for groups you identify with. If you’re not able to get out into the world as often as you’d like, you can find online meetups and communities, too.

With all these ideas, a key component is to be open to connection, and willing to put effort into maintaining relationships in the early stages. It can be daunting to be straightforward with potential friends, and people often fear judgment around wanting to make more friends. However – many adults are experiencing feelings of loneliness and longing for more platonic connection. To put it simply, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more friends, and you’re not alone! Besides… if someone judges you for wanting to be their friend, would they be a person you want to be friends with anyway? So shoot your shot, and even if it takes some time, hopefully you’ll find yourself in connection with chosen community who helps you feel cared for, seen, and supported.

If you’re experiencing loneliness and want more support in creating community for yourself, our therapists can help! Reach out to us at contact@Luminarycounseling.com to set up a free consultation with one of our licensed clinicians.

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