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10 tips to manage social isolation through community involvement

Group of people clearing up trash on a beach

Social isolation can have negative effects on one’s well-being and can be associated with depression and anxiety. There are a number of possible causes for experiencing social isolation. It can include moving to a new country or even a new town, the death of a loved one, having close friends or family move away, or mental health challenges that make it difficult to connect with people. In addition to this, the use of social media can worsen social isolation by preventing meaningful in-person relationships.

If feeling isolated is resonating with you, do not despair. There are a variety of opportunities to make new friends. Some of the best opportunities involve getting out of your home, participating in your community. Here are some examples of activities that can be helpful to make new friends with similar interests.

1. Check out your local library

Libraries have long been the heart of a community and for good reason. They are a great (and free!) place to come for quiet and borrowing books. But they can also be a meeting place for community workshops, talks by authors, art shows, and sometimes other events such as board game gatherings. They can also a wonderful place for families as they often host children’s groups.

2. Participate in a community garden

Planting, watering, growing, weeding – this all part of tending your garden. This can be a great place for people who do not have their own garden space. Some people also simply prefer to work together with other gardeners. Sharing gardening progress and tips all within a natural setting is a peaceful opportunity for social experiences.

3. Join a local club

Finding a club to join may take a bit of research, however, it is certainly possible. Check out local bulletin boards at libraries, coffee shops, local magazines, or community hall websites. Some examples could be joining a book club, walking or hiking club, or a dinner club. This can allow you to meet people sharing a common interest.

4. Volunteer

Volunteer opportunities within a community may seem endless. From the hospital to the animal shelter there is typically a volunteer opportunity for every personality and area of interest.  The feel-good notion of volunteering coupled with working together with others, allows you to feel valuable to the community in multiple ways.

5. Spiritual group

Joining a spiritual group can be a way to meet like-minded people for some. This could be a traditional place of worship or personal spiritual activity, such as yoga or meditation. As these are usually quieter events, a bit more extra effort may be required to start conversations at the end of the session.

6. Support an environmental group

Seasonal garbage clean-up, tree planting, or restoring a natural habitat all have multiple benefits beyond meeting people. Being outside in the fresh air and knowing you are doing something good for the environment — this is an all-around feel-good activity.

7. Join a local theatre, choir, or musical group

If drama, acting, singing, playing an instrument, or trying improv has been on your bucket list then this is a fantastic way to meet people and get out of the house. Going out of your comfort zone can also be a great way for authentic new connections.

8. Take your dog socializing

Taking your pup to a local dog park on a routine basis has been the source of many new friendships. Don’t be shy to start a conversation with someone; a common denominator of dog talk is available to you as an ice breaker.

9. Check out events at your community centre

Community center mandates are often simple: bring people together to build healthy communities. Everything from fitness classes to art classes can typically be found within community centers. They can be a great place to meet others from your community on a weekly basis and possibly establish meaningful friendships.

10. Cooking

Everybody needs to eat. This simple fact can bring people together in multiple formats. For example, consider volunteering at a local community food bank to prepare meals for those who may be struggling to afford a home-cooked meal.

Another option is to take a cooking lesson; or simply come together with like-minded individuals to cook, test new recipes, or share family favorites. Trying food from different cultures can be a fabulous way to bring community members together.

Feeling belonging

Feeling a sense of connection and belonging is important for health. Hopefully, some of these ideas can help you meet people in your community. When making new friends, make sure to maintain those friendships by integrating them regularly into your day-to-day life. The joy and support of close friendships can be one of the most important investments in life.

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