Numerous studies show the impact of your environment on your mental health — including your local community. However, your neighborhood isn’t something that exists without you. You are very much a part of it, and the role you choose to play can influence your overall well-being.
Many people today complain of increasing isolation, but loneliness is partly self-determined. There are ways for everyone to get involved, and thriving communities function like healthy ecosystems, with each living being playing a role in helping to support each other.
5 Benefits Of Contributing To Your Local Community
Have you ever thought about helping others but never got around to starting? It’s happened to me on many occasions. But, when I eventually went out and helped out for an event, a food drive, or something of the sort – it was never a bad experience. So, why don’t we contribute more? I don’t know, maybe life just gets in the way. Regardless, here’s the benefits:
1. It Improves Your Health
You can probably guess that increasing your community involvement can have considerable mental health benefits. Can it also improve your physical well-being? The answer is yes, through various means.
For example, not everyone has access to a gym — but anyone can use a playground. Physical inactivity contributes to soaring obesity rates among children and adults, and associated health risks accompany those unwanted pounds. Coordinating with others to improve your local parks means getting a say on what equipment you install. Do you want a smooth, repaved jogging track to prevent trips and falls? Get on the committee and voice your input.
Other projects can also enhance your and your neighbor’s health. For example, community gardens likewise encourage more physical activity and provide fresh, organic produce to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of community involvement for mental health. Humans are inherently social, and the need for love and belonging comes right after physical safety in Maslow’s hierarchy. Without it, people can’t fully develop a sense of self as a separate person, nurture self-esteem or actualize their potential.
2. It Builds Your Network Effortlessly
The inherent human need for socialization shows in how we relate in the working world. Lee Iacocca once said that business is nothing more than a bunch of human relationships. Contributing to your local community highlights your values while helping you connect with others who share similar mores.
Let’s say you’re new in the city. Your LinkedIn account overflows with contacts, but they all reside in your former hometown. How can you connect with others near you without attending endless after-hours networking events that leave you wanting to set your “dress for success” suit ablaze?
You can dress as casually as you like when walking puppies or socializing kitties for a local shelter. Are you guaranteed to meet someone in your field? You never know what contacts you might make — and you’ll already have a mutual love of animals to discuss as an icebreaker.
3. It Makes Your Neighborhood Safer for Children
“The children are the future” isn’t only a Whitney Houston lyric — it’s reality. Kids inherit the world we leave them, and community involvement helps ensure it’s one that we’re proud to pass on to the next generation.
For example, do kids in your neighborhood hesitate to walk to school because of stranger danger? While it’s wise to be cautious, this activity can improve health. Why not organize a walking school bus or bike train where safety in numbers lets kids stretch their legs? Are you a local shopowner? Get to know passing parents escorting their children to school and offer your place of business as a safe refuge where the little ones can come for help if walking alone.
4. It Can Help Green the Planet
Part of passing on a healthy world to our children requires keeping the planet clean. Community involvement helps in such efforts in many ways. Community gardens do more than provide fresh greens — they also reduce store runs and the resulting emissions. Walking to school reduces exhaust fumes, and neighborhood cleanups can keep local parks and thoroughfares clean.
If you have more time, could you consider getting involved on a larger scale? For example, while most people want to recycle, many don’t because of a lack of nearby facilities. If you have free time on your hands and a trailer for towing cans, you could install bins at your apartment complex and run goods to the sorting center once a week.
5. It Teaches the Importance of Civic Commitment
According to environmentalist Robert Swan, the greatest threat to the planet is the belief that someone else will save it. The same principle applies to communities. Everyone wants to live in a nurturing, supportive one — but all members must do their part to build and maintain it.
Getting involved in your community encourages others to do the same. While the effects might be more profound on your kids if you are a parent, many people want to do the right thing. However, they hesitate out of fear of embarrassment.
Your courage could be the candle that lights a thousand others. Contact your local city offices to enquire about opportunities or get in touch with your state’s volunteer agency to coordinate with an organization that aligns with your values today.
Why You Should Contribute to Your Local Community
Healthy communities improve the well-being of everyone who lives there. However, making such neighborhoods a reality requires everyone’s participation.
There are many reasons to contribute to your local community. By doing so, you benefit yourself and everyone around you.