The Importance of Community for MenLisanne Wellness Center
The idea of a lone wolf is embedded in our minds as a symbol of strength, independence, and freedom. But wolves are pack animals; they survive and thrive in groups. Lone wolves, as romantic as the notion may sound, are not usually alone by choice. Rather they are alpha males who have been kicked out of their pack by a new, bigger alpha, or a younger alpha-esque wolf who challenged the leader.
The same is true with men. While American culture tends to tell men to be solitary and strong, they still need a pack – a community – in order to thrive.
The health benefits of community speak for themselves. Social interaction increases oxytocin in the brain, which makes us feel happier and healthier, reduces depression and PTSD risk, and lowers stress levels. All of these benefits add up to longer and happier lives. Not only is community full of positive health benefits, but a lack of it is associated with negative health concerns like depression and (potentially) suicide. About 9% of American men are depressed, and the suicide rate among men is four times higher than the depression rate among women.
So if you’re a man who has found himself without a pack, what are you to do? The first step is to recognize that you want more community in your life. There’s no shame in not going it alone, in fact, it’s healthy to be part of a group.
Here are some ways to find your community:
Join a group or club: If you’re looking for friends and a sense of community, you can start with your hobbies. Love basketball? Why not join a basketball team. Passionate about coding? So are lots of other men. Websites like Meetup.org offer ample opportunities to find camaraderie in your neighborhood with like-minded individuals.
Volunteer: Volunteering for a cause you care about is a great way to meet people who share your values and beliefs. And since volunteers generally meet in the same place on a regular basis, you’ll be able to form a routine around this community.
Go to a church or worship service: Church communities are great places to meet “your people.” When you find a church community, you will have the opportunity to build deep, lasting bonds with people who believe the same things you do. Church groups often host retreats, small group meetings, and other opportunities to get to know the members of the community.
Get Online: Sometimes the internet can be isolating and keep us locked to our phones, but it can also provide amazing access to groups, communities, and people we might not otherwise be able to meet. Online communities are great places to find people who share your interests. If you work from home, finding community online can be especially helpful
Get a Pet: Pets are a great way to ease loneliness, and they can actually help reduce depression? Pets can provide much needed social interaction, routine, love, and routine. All of which are incredibly helpful in making changes in your life, improving your overall sense of well-being, and breaking the cycle of isolation. Plus, a pet like a dog will need regular exercise, which will get you out of the house into some fresh air. As a bonus, dog parks are often prime locations to make friends and arrange dog play dates.
Take a class: Is there a topic you’re greatly interested in? Just because you’re not in school anymore doesn’t mean you have to stop learning. Colleges in your area may offer classes you can audit. You can also find classes at outdoor outfitters (hiking and camping classes), and grocery stores (cooking classes). Pick a topic and sign up! If you’d like to take a wellness class, you can check out our Events page for upcoming classes.
Community and a sense of belonging are essential components to men’s health. By getting involved with people you feel connected to, you’ll boost your oxytocin levels, feel happier, lower your blood pressure, and live longer. For more tips on how to live a healthier, happier life, call Lisanne Wellness Center at 713-461-WELL. Subscribe to our newsletter to get weekly health tips and updates.