May is Mental Health Month! Mental health is one of my favorite topics to explore. I went around and around on what I should share this month as there is so much I want to share. After recent events, I finally knew what I needed to talk about – human connection.
Research widely shows that connecting to other humans is critical for our health. One study by the University of Michigan, Social Relationships and Health, had astounding results that indicated that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. Connecting with other humans is critical to our mental and physical well-being. Studies also have shown that people who are socially connected have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Not only that but research shows that self-esteem and empathy increase, people are more cooperative and trusting, and as a result others are more cooperative and trusting with them. Overall, being socially connected creates a positive loop that impacts our well-being in a variety of positive ways.
While I was working in South Africa, I learned of the word Ubuntu. It has ever since greatly shaped my work and the way I see connections with others. This word, pronounced in three syllables, means so much, and it gets to the core of how we need and also have an impact on others. I constantly strive to keep this meaning in mind and focus on the necessity of connection. I hope it helps inspire you to connect. Whether or not you need more connections in your life, you may know someone else that needs connection. In the spirit of ubuntu, we must lend a hand and rise together.
There are lots of ways to build connections. Here are just a few ideas for you to connect this summer:
- Attend one of the music events in the parks around the Chippewa Valley.
- Go to the library, often referred to as the community’s living room, where there are tons of activities to attend, from book clubs, to events, and more.
- Get involved, volunteer, or find groups or organizations that can help you connect with others with shared interests.
- Reach out to someone you have lost connection with.
- Go to a communal space to hang out or eat, like a park or the Community Table (all are welcome!)
- Check in and get to know your neighbors.
- Keep an eye on the Volume One Events page.
- Visit people you know that are isolated, at home, in nursing homes, etc.
Know that you are not alone, there are people out there to connect with. Please reach out if you need help finding opportunities that work for you. As always, please call 911 or 988 (the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline) in case of a crisis. For more information on Mental Health resources please see the monthly featured resources section on the Community Resources Assistance Page.
This post was written with Greg Goetz in mind, someone who really understood the importance of human connection.