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BLOG: BUILDING YOUR COMMUNITY

We know that humans are social animals and we are at our best when we are with our ‘tribe’- the people who get us and understand us.

Sometimes, it feels like life is designed to prevent us from spending time with others, whether it’s juggling home and work life, communicating through social media or shopping online rather than nipping to the local shops. Before we know it, several days can have passed by without us spending meaningful time with others doing the things we enjoy and having fun!

There are times in my life when I have felt alone and lonely and I know there will be times in the future when I feel this way again. When I feel lonely, it can be really hard to be brave and take the first steps to connect with others and build my community. I can live in a vicious circle- self-doubt starts to creep in- ‘will they like me?’ ‘will they accept me?’ Because I am thinking in this way, I don’t ask my neighbour if they fancy a coffee or my fellow school mum if they would like to go to the cinema. So, you guessed it, I start to feel more alone. I wonder if this feels familiar?

Community can be found in lots of different people and places - from the dog walker you pass everyday, to your family or those you share a passion or hobby with.

We all have different needs when it comes to connecting with others. Some of us would spend our every waking hour with other people while others of us also need time to be on our own to curl up with a good book and a purring cat on our knee. It’s important that we get this balance right or it can lead to feeling overwhelmed or lonely. If you feel the balance in your life isn’t quite right, you can change it.

If you want to make changes, go at your own pace to build the connections you want in your life. You can do this in lots of different ways  such as  joining a club where you can share or learn a new hobby, or volunteering for a local organisation, like Health in Mind, where you can help others at the same time as building your own community.

If you are feeling nervous, connecting with others through an activity or task can be a great way of getting started.

Whatever you decide to do, I encourage you to expect the best. Turn down the volume on those negative thoughts, be kind to yourself and be brave!

I saw this quote the other day and I just loved it! So this is my challenge to you…. and to me!

‘Better to be the one who smiles than the one that didn’t smile back.’

Wendy Bates is Health in Mind’s Chief Executive and has worked with the organisation since 2001. Wendy is also a mother of two daughters and is enjoying learning about life again through the eyes of two teenagers