Contributing to your community

This week we have had two awesome events in our community that were organised solely by volunteers and were for the community. It really got me thinking about the importance of community events, belonging, and contributing to our communities and the effect this has on our wellbeing.

I have always been really passionate about community and making a contribution and I love being involved and volunteering. I think this comes from my awesome Grandparents and also my Dad. They were great contributors and really involved in community and set an excellent example for me. My Nen, Gwen Heinz even got an OAM for community service. So, I guess I’ve always been a contributor and get involved with things because I like to be part of something. I like to contribute and I get real joy out of being involved in organising things with other people and in working to create good outcomes for our community. Turns out this is actually really good for your wellbeing!

I’ve written before about how much I love our community and why I think community is so important, but involvement in community is also important for individuals and being involved with community is really good for your individual wellbeing.

There is so much to be gained from sharing experiences with others and from a sense of belonging and also from contributing.

According to Maslow, “humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among their social groups, regardless whether these groups are large or small. For example, some large social groups may include clubs, co-workers, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, and gangs. Some examples of small social connections include family members, intimate partners, mentors, colleagues, and confidants. Humans need to love and be loved – both sexually and non-sexually – by others.[2] Many people become susceptible to lonelinesssocial anxiety, and clinical depression in the absence of this love or belonging element. This need for belonging may overcome the physiological and security needs, depending on the strength of the peer pressure.”

Mind Health Connect also say Connecting with family and friends, volunteering, taking up a hobby or joining a group can help to reduce loneliness. Maintaining wellbeing has a positive effect on your ability to cope with everyday stresses. Feeling part of a community, and developing relationships, can contribute to improved health and wellbeing. http://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/being-part-of-a-community

Last Friday we had a fashion parade where a group of local shops got together to showcase their goods and all the funds raised went to cervical cancer and last Saturday was the 10th annual “Red Carpet Evening” which is the major fundraiser for our Local Health Medical Trust which is responsible for our fantastic medical services in Barham.

Both these events were organised completely by volunteers and were all about doing good stuff in our community. I know it’s so much work for the volunteers but I bet they get a real buzz out of being involved with pulling off such great events and afterwards feel a real sense of achievement. I know myself with the volunteer stuff I’ve done, it just makes you feel good. It’s great to be part of something and to give something back.

So what are you part of? Are you involved in any community groups or organising committees? Small towns particularly always need volunteers, it’s what keeps them going. Getting involved in your community is not only good for the community but also for you! One of the first things we do when we are feeling a bit down is isolate ourselves so if that’s you then maybe force yourself to get out and surround yourself with people. Try volunteering with a local group that interests you or get a long and support a local event. You might be amazed how much it will help you as well as others!

I’d love to hear what groups your involved in or own personal experience of contributing and how it may have helped you too!

Kx

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Dealing with Grief and Loss

Sometimes life just gets in the way of life. Things happen that are totally unexpected and you get thrown a curve ball but you’ve also got to just keep going. Life keeps going.  We’ve had that time this year. Where you really wish you could just stop for a bit, have some time to deal with what you need to and then move on. But the business and the farm don’t stop, the trees don’t wait and the avocados must be picked!

Losing Tim’s Dad, brought back a lot of emotions for me and got me thinking a lot about grief and how people deal differently with grief and loss. I feel like most of us have no idea how to do grief. How do we go on when we lose a loved one? Is it OK to just go on?  Have we been sad enough? Have we cried enough? Are we crying too much? Are we mourning in a respectful way? Are we saying the right things to those around us who are also suffering? Did they say the right thing to us? Why did they say that? How will the kids deal with this? Should we tell the kids everything? Should we talk about it? What if people don’t want to talk about? Is there something wrong with not talking? Why aren’t they talking, they must be bottling it up, that’s not healthy.. Are they being too emotional?

So many questions and really the answers are very different for every person. Everyone deals with things differently and everyone needs to grieve differently, but there actually are some road maps and there are things we can put in place if we are open about it and talk about it, to make dealing with grief and loss just a little bit more manageable, because the bottom line is, we have to be able to manage it. It will be different for every person, but the more we can prepare ourselves and build our resilience the easier it can be.

The thing is,  grief and loss are inevitable and we simply must deal with it. We all need to be able to cope with grief and loss of loved ones because no one escapes death. For a long time, not even necessarily in a conscious way I think I thought that I would never be able to be truly happy because I lost my Dad in such a tragic way. I sort of carried it around like my life would never be truly awesome because Dad had died. It was almost like an excuse. But, what I have come to realise is that is not true at all and life can still be amazing and beautiful and incredible and joyess no matter what happens to us. Because it’s not really about what happens to us but how we respond to it that matters.  It was Charles R. Swindle who first said, “Life is 10% is what happens to us and the other 90% is how we respond to it”  Hajaloula! How true is that? Things will happen, difficult things might happen, we get to choose whether we let it ruin us or make us.

But, the thing is, we can’t really make this choice consciously if we don’t have the resilience and the foundation of wellbeing to begin with.  So how do we develop that resilience and wellbeing foundation in the first place? Where are we taught all this? I know for me, I was never taught about dealing with grief or looking after my mental wellbeing, I found my way there myself. I really wish I had been taught this as a child. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was more of a focus on building resilience and wellbeing and learning how to cope in difficult situations in schools?  I am actually working with our local school to try to get this happening by implementing The Smiling Mind course, I highly recommend checking it out.

But what about us adults who have no idea where to start to build our resilience and our wellbeing? I’ve listed some great resources at the end to get you started thinking about it and I highly recommend doing some of your own research to find what you think might work for you.  You can try meditating, journalling, practicing gratitude daily, making sure you have good relationships with loved ones, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep and being kind! Even just having a conversation with loved ones about death and what you want out of life is a good place to start.

I was speaking to our community health nurse the other week and she mentioned that she was going to check out a “Death Cafe” and my ears pricked up. She explained a little more and I just thought it sounded so cool. Basically, you can set it up in your town for a time in a cafe or other local hang out and people can go and ask all sorts of questions about death, openly and without any judgement. The concept of the death cafe is also ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’. So not only talking openly about death but also asking you to think about life! What a wonderful initiative! You can check out more about it here: http://deathcafe.com/what/

Do you have some tips or tools that you use to build your resilience or develop your wellbeing and help you cope when things are tough? Do you think you have a good level of resilience? Do you talk about death with your family and are you living life to the fullest because you know that it is precious?  I’d love to hear.

Thanks for reading and happy living!!!

K x

Links:

The Resilience Project 

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/grief-and-loss

This article form the experience life is fantastic and even has a little quiz at the end so you can test ho resilient you are! 

The 5 Best Ways to Build Resiliency

The Live Happy guys have a whole section devoted to resilience with lots of different articles https://www.livehappy.com/self/resilience

 

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