Improve Your Health with Community!

 Most people probably don't think of "community" when they think about their own well-being. But did you know it is one of the most important of the five pillars?

Community well-being is liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community. Let’s take a deeper look into three areas that can help boost your community well-being: connectedness, environment, and volunteerism.

Social Connections

Connectedness is how involved you are with your community. Below are questions you can ask yourself to gauge your connectedness.

  1.  Are you involved with local groups or boards?
  2. Do you talk to your neighbors or at least know their names?
  3. Do you participate in local events (fairs, races, fundraisers, etc.)?

If you answered, ‘no’ to any or all these questions, start thinking about how you can get more connected to your own community. Identify an area you can contribute to based on your own passion, interests, and strengths. 

Environment:

Community well-being begins with basic necessities. Do you have access to clean water? Do you feel safe walking around your neighborhood? Do you live in a heavily-polluted area? If these needs are not met, it can cause stress and have a negative effect on your health and well-being. Programs and structures that can support your community environment include:

  • Sidewalks
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Playgrounds
  • Trails
  • Public Transit
  • Public Safety
  • Bike Lanes
  • Museums
  • Places to gather for social time (restaurants, movie theaters, bowling aisles, etc.)
  • General acceptance of all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, age, religion, or heritage
  • Education

Volunteering

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” ~ Winston Churchill

Volunteering can be an impactful activity where both the recipient and the giver truly benefit. While volunteering can affect your physical and emotional well-being through increasing self-esteem, reducing stress, and lowering blood pressure, it can also greatly impact your community well-being.

People who are thriving in community well-being often report their greatest accomplishment in life is the impact they had on another person, organization, or community (Reference Tom Rath and Jim Harter in Wellbeing Book). Helping others can produce a deeper connection with your community and create a greater sense of belonging, purpose, and social interaction.

HCSC has an employee volunteer program (Blue Corps) solely dedicated to facilitating volunteer opportunities and giving back to the community.

So how can you get more involved? For starters, find something you are passionate about.  It can be anything from a national organization to your local food kitchen or hospital. Volunteering is no different than most areas of our lives – if we like it or feel good doing it, we will most likely continue it.

Three Easy Steps to Get Started:

  1. Find an activity (biking, running, walking, building, reading, etc.) or an organization (American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Susan G Koman, etc.) that interests you.
  2. Research Information - Most non-profits will have information specific to volunteer opportunities on their website or at least contact information of someone you can get in touch with to get more information.
  3. Say yes and get involved! 

Whether it is walking dogs at your local Humane Society, volunteering for a large event, joining your community watch group or bringing in food/supplies to a homeless shelter - it all matters. Getting more involved in your community can sometimes seem like a daunting task. Just remember, no step is too small towards making a difference and increasing your community well-being.

Just joining us for this series? Check out the previous article on social well-being, or head back to the beginning!

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