Is community the missing piece of the wellbeing puzzle?
The wellbeing industry is abuzz with trends that encourage us as individuals to take control of our health with [insert new product here]. Yet, research shows that our wellbeing is intimately connected to something much greater than simply ourselves, that is, our community. The cultures we are part of, our circle of friends, and the places in which we live, all have a huge impact on our wellbeing. Yet, leading voices in the wellbeing industry often promote the idea of good health as a much more individualist pursuit, something that you, alone, can achieve *if* determined enough. This narrative fails to recognise the social nature of our species. We rely on our relationships to develop our cognitive and social capabilities, so why would it be any different when it comes to improving our wellbeing?
Never has our human need for community come into sharper focus than during the pandemic.
The social isolation we’ve experienced has heightened our awareness that our relationships with people are what makes life meaningful. To go beyond meaning though, these social relationships are also absolutely vital to our health: Yes, we feel better when we’re around people who love us (well, so long as the feeling is mutual)- but certain studies even show that having more friends can increase our pain threshold and that falling in love can improve our immunity. The converse is, sadly, also true - social isolation is linked to increased risk of a broad spectrum of health conditions, including dementia, depression, heart disease and stroke. In short, we need each other to be well.
It makes sense then, that our communities also play a pivotal role in the formation of new wellbeing habits: Try sticking to a new plant-based diet in a large Italian family or leaving your partner in bed to go for a solo run before sunrise – it’s tough. This is, at least in part, because when our pursuit for better wellbeing cuts us off from our communities it becomes unsustainable: By taking us away from the most basic thing we need to be well - other people - we understandably don’t feel that motivated to keep it up.
Does that mean we’ve got to leave our wellbeing up to fate or ditch our loved ones to form new healthier habits? Absolutely not. It simply means that taking care of our wellbeing is much easier when we connect with people who share similar aims. We know how much easier it is to stick to that run if we go with a friend, or to eat more healthily when we’ve got a support group egging us on.
The path to better wellbeing is not one that we need to walk alone, in fact walking it with others will actually help us merrily on our way.
At Beingwell, we recognise the importance of community for better wellbeing. This is why our membership package includes free access for friends and family – so that together we can help each other to live a little bit better each day.
Interested in learning more about how Beingwell can support your colleagues with their wellbeing? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.