Being part of a community is a vital element of wellness. Fellowship with others provides a sense of purpose and belonging and can make us feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves.

In fact, being social and part of a community is an innate need for humans.

In early times, humans developed a basic form of language because they needed more advanced communication to share ideas, remain safe, and ultimately evolve. People have formed tribes and groups and societies since the earliest of times to survive.

And the people we surround ourselves with throughout our lives help to shape our own personal identities and have a significant impact on our overall health and wellness.

Here, as part of our wellness series, we take a look at six essential benefits of being part of a community.

Support

As in early days, people rely on other people for support in many ways. We all have different strengths, pieces of knowledge and experiences and sharing words of wisdom, advice, and even human touch – such as a hug – can alleviate sadness, loneliness, anxiousness and more. Conversely, supporting someone else gives our own selves a sense of purpose.

Reinforcement

Gaining reinforcement from a group helps us to form certain habits and ways of conducting ourselves. Getting feedback – even negative feedback – gives us information on what’s appropriate and what’s not and helps us tweak our behaviors to best make our way in the world.

Brain Power and Memory

Research has shown social motivation and social contact can help to improve memory and cognitive function.  It can also protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases.

Learning/Resources

Every person knows something you don’t, and vice versa. Sharing knowledge and information enriches our lives and helps us to be more informed.

Increase Self Esteem

Surrounding yourself with a positive social network will increase your self esteem and sense of worth. Feeling that you are valued by those around you contributes greatly to overall wellness.

Physical Health

Social support has also been found to be particularly important in increasing resilience and promoting recovery from illness. Chronic loneliness can produce long-term damage to physiological health through increased stress hormones, weaker immunity, and cardiovascular health.

And in fact, a recent study summarized in Medical News Today shows that working out in a group setting is more effective for improving mental health,  emotional wellbeing and reducing stress than working out alone!

How to Find and Develop Your Community

Consider what you love doing – your hobbies and interests – and look for a group around that. Love reading? Join a book club! Like to cook? Take cooking lessons. Looking to get more fit? Join a gym. You can also walk out your door and get involved in your neighborhood or immediate geographic community.

In the end, socializing and being a part of something increases happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer – so make sure you are getting your fair share of socializing!