5 Ways to Feel More Connected Within Your Community
Community can be defined as people with common interests and values living in a particular broad area. For you, community could mean family and friends, neighbors, or people that you know through activities like church. While the social limits during the pandemic have caused many to feel a loss of community, there are plenty of ways to rebuild and maintain these connections. Here are a few ideas to get you inspired!
Start a food exchange
Starting a small cooking or baking group can be a great way to connect with neighbors and meet new ones. It’s a way to share meals and treats, trade culinary tips, and take care of each other. The food can also provide comfort and stress relief as well. And by taking turns, each person’s level of effort can break down to one or two days a month (or even fewer)—while getting the benefits of a long-term connection within the group. (We advise asking for specific details on diets, allergies, and preferences first.) Even if someone’s not a cook or a baker, they can still contribute with hot chocolate, tea, and store-bought food or drinks.
Form a group of walking partners
Everyone loves a walking buddy. To safely maintain enough physical distance, set up a group of several friends who are game for walking in pairs every week. It may also work to start a text thread or email chain, so that anyone who’s looking for a walk partner can find someone with the same interest and schedule availability. As an added bonus, it creates an accountability support system to help everyone stick to regular exercise.
Lead a discussion group
An important part of feeling connected to others can come from sharing beliefs and values. Book clubs and current events discussions offer ways to build common ground, stay mentally active, and take other perspectives. Bible studies and groups centered on spiritual topics can also create a support network as well as spiritual growth. Leading an activity also gives ourselves a chance to develop organizing and hosting skills. And an extra benefit of safely conducted group activities is providing a way for members with limited mobility to feel connected and cared for.
Set up a group email chain
While it’s great to catch up with friends and family over Zoom or on the phone, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to carve out time each week to stay connected. One simple way to stay in touch on a more regular basis is to start an email chain amongst your group. You can use the group email to send personal updates, share photos or recipes, or even play games (here are some fun game ideas to try!). This gives you an easy and quick way to check in with each other in a more casual way.
Gather a virtual volunteer group
Whether it’s making clothing or art to donate, writing thank-you notes on behalf of nonprofit organizations, or being a supportive listener for troubled youth, volunteering can both build and benefit communities with help and kindness. Just as importantly, the benefits of volunteering with others include creating strong connections and friendships, protecting against loneliness, and improving mental and even physical health. Not only that, the shared purpose of volunteering can help smooth out the awkwardness of meeting new people—making it easier to build a new community around a common goal. Check out the plenty of ways to volunteer virtually, including the AARP’s Create the Good database.
For more tips on staying connected and living well, you can browse through our full list of blog topics here.