Healthy Mind

Finding Community Is Essential—Here Are 7 Tips To Prioritize It in Your Own Life

Photo: Stocksy/Irina Ozhigova; Graphic: W+G Creative
What if, this January, you ignored all the voices telling you what you “should be” and instead focused on finding the healthful habits that feel right for *you*? With ReNew Year, the only thing we’re detoxing from is a restrictive mindset. Pick a goal—movement, food, self care, or all three—and hit refresh. Get the Program

As a builder of community through my work as the creator of Ethel’s Club (a virtual and IRL community) and Somewhere Good (an identity-focused social platform), I’ve learned that gathering with like-minded people is crucial to my well-being. Spending time and energy with folks who see the world similarly to the way I do has allowed me to envision things for myself I never thought possible, like being able to deeply connect with strangers, tap into a more vulnerable side of myself, and generally feel less alone in the world.

Having a sense of community is so important to me, and this week is all about centering that pursuit. Finding a group of people who share your interests and experiences can be life-affirming and -changing (trust me on this!). It's important to have people in your life with whom you can share big and small things and together make a difference in your community that will impact the greater good. So this week, we will incorporate self-care tips that will help you learn how to center community in your life.

Day 15: Be open and curious

It’s important to maintain a high level of openness and curiosity when learning how to center community in your life. So today, be intentional about where and how you’re placing your time to ensure that the spaces you find connect with your larger values of what it means to share space as a group. As an activity to help you do this, consider asking an open-ended question to an individual or a group. For example, asking an elder about their experiences at your age can create a connection between the two of you and perhaps even bestow you with some perils of wisdom.

Day 16: Find an accountability partner

Tap your friends or personal networks to find someone with whom you can grow. Then, make a shortlist of things for which you’d like to be held accountable and share it with your accountability partner. Check in with them at an agreed-upon cadence, whether daily, weekly, or monthly, with soft goals laddering up to help you achieve a milestone of your choosing, whether that’s committing to a fitness practice, writing a book, or anything else you’ve been wanting to accomplish. To make it easy to stay connected, set a recurring, shared-calendar reminder for your check-ins; this is a simple way to make sure you'll prioritize your goals and relationship.

Day 17: Find a community that focuses on what interests you

Find a support group or community that speaks to something you want to learn more about, like, perhaps a birdwatching group, a new yoga class, or an activist organization. Amazing organizations exist for any interest or inspiration. For a few examples, there's Pot, a pottery studio in Los Angeles intended for people of color; Hike Clerb, a Los Angeles-based hiking group for intersectional womxn; and Flock Together, a birdwatching collective with chapters in London, Toronto, and New York. While there are likely groups for whatever your interests are no matter where you live, the internet is home to endless virtual communities focused on any number of interests to support you in centering your curiosity, getting connected, and making a difference.

Day 18: Identify a walk-and-talk buddy

Not every social plan needs to be elaborate. Having a walk-and-talk buddy with whom you simply take walks allows you to effortlessly share space with one another and nature. Often, we find ourselves gathering around an event or for a specific reason. What does it look like when two friends connect simply to talk and dream together?

Day 19: Track down an errand buddy

On that note, not every relationship needs to be a close friendship, wherein you disclose deep feelings and bare your soul. In fact, you can connect with people in your community while you’re accomplishing other personal goals, like moving your body or knocking items off your to-do list. Perhaps an acquaintance of yours is interested in learning jiujitsu, or you and a neighbor happen to pick up groceries on the same day and decide to carpool. Often, community grows through these smaller—but meaningful—relationships built around getting things done.

Day 20: Explore with a friend

Find something new in your area and create an exploration guide with a friend. Think of it like a self-curated tour to see your town from a new perspective. Does a local bar hold a trivia night? Does a coffee shop host local artists for special performances? Does your local library have documents that shed light on its history? Tap into events and resources that allow you to explore the place you live with a pal, and take turns each month choosing a community-focused activity.

Day 21: Activate in your community

Tap into your local activism network and support it first by simply listening. What are things you could learn more about that will help out your neighbors? This can look like sitting in on local meetings, educating yourself about your council members, and spending more time talking (and listening) to people on your street. Then, take action to get involved. Some organizations I support in my own community are East Brooklyn Mutual Aid (an organization that works to provide groceries to community members in need), Black Trans Femme in the Arts (a community for Black trans femme artists and art), and For the Gworls (a Black, trans-led collective).

If your community doesn't have the resource or organization that you believe it needs, consider what it would take to start it yourself. You have the power to change your community and help it grow positively.

Looking to hit refresh on your healthy habits this January? Check out our full 2022 ReNew Year program for expert-led plans for sustainable eating, exercise, and self-care routines. 

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