Pillars of Health: Community
Environment, Love & Support
"The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital." - Mark Hyman, MD
Community is the part of your everyday environment that is filled by friends and family, your local neighbourhood, along with your work colleagues and acquaintances. As social creatures (even if you’re an introvert), community is a much-needed aspect of our lives. Supporting others with their goals and ambitions is just as important as having others there to do the same for you.
Feeling like a valued member of a community can be as challenging, if not more so, as creating a strong identity and Sense of Self: one influences the other and vice versa. Your surrounding environment will strongly influence many of your outcomes based on the people that make up your team. This ranges from the simplest of daily habits (resisting the daily cookie offers at work), to the hardest decisions at home (making that job leap).
Do you feel loved and supported by those closest to you?
A lack of community support can make any human feel alone or unloved. These negative emotions, felt consistently over time, resonate throughout the body's systems and can affect everything from sleep and pain management to decision-making and digestion.
Does your support circle encourage healthy habits and activities?
Due to the pressures and stressors of todays social’s climate, many people deal with intense self-criticism that can lead to increased isolation from others. This isolation often leads to the creation of unhealthy behaviours- a sedentary lifestyle, over-reliance on food for pleasure, & diminished self-care- that only further compound the initial lack of community that caused the negative cycle to begin.
Being part of a valued community provides perspective, moments of empathy, generosity to others, support, laughter (which will always remain the best medicine), and can add to our sense of purpose in life.
The impact of community is now being researched heavily regarding how the mere presence of loved ones can positively impact the health of those who suffer from chronic illness, are in recovery from surgeries or live with chronic pain. While it may seem overly simplistic to think that a sense of belonging can impact our health so heavily, it is perhaps the most cost-effective and enjoyable way to do so.
Are you surrounded by, and supported to eat, food options that serve your health?
If you're uncertain about any of these questions, building your sense of community and communication within it could be a missing link to your health and fitness success.
How To Enhance Your Sense of Community
If you are an introvert and feel drained by most people, you are not alone. With that said, community remains an important aspect of health. Even for the most introverted individuals, here are 3 time-controlled options to help fulfill the void of community in your life:
- Volunteer your time. Research volunteer options within your community and start small by giving just 30 minutes of your time/week to a deserving cause. Supporting others is incredibly rewarding and this slowly but surely builds a community that will equally support you as well.
- Join a local club, group or team. From softball to cooking to knitting, there are typically groups or clubs to join in even the smallest of communities- and you're fully in charge of how much time you want to devote each week.
- Join a privately-owned gym. Joining a big-box gym will often have you floating in a sea of strangers. Small-box gyms make it a priority to build community within their members and you'll be free to come and go as you please within this community. The added bonus is that you're prioritizing time for your physical health as well with others supporting the process!
When you put energy into caring for others, this energy will come back to you. Loving others helps to support a sense purpose in life, so even if you're a hard-line introvert you will still benefit from quality time with quality people.