Five ways engaging with a community can help tackle stress

With so many work and social commitments, it can often be difficult to carve out some time to enrich your personal life.

Though exercising and practising self-care are important for general wellbeing, another way you can expand your social life is by joining in on community activities. Read on for a round-up of ideas to explore during Stress Awareness Month this April.

Join a dance class

While you may feel out of your depth to begin with, dance classes are a great way of learning a new skill, boosting confidence, and meeting new people.

"For me, discovering Burlesque classes enabled me to discover the true me. It not only helped me to improve my mental health and learn to be confident in my own skin, but it has also opened the doors to so many wonderful opportunities over the years that would never have happened if I hadn't tried Burlesque," explained Sapphira, performer, trainer and founder of World Burlesque Day.

Get social

Many of us adapted to working at home during the Covid-19 lockdowns. But whether you are at home, in the office, or doing a mix of both, do try to interact with your colleagues during lunch breaks or other social activities.

"Having a clear, disciplined routine that separates work and home commitments that also allows for regular breaks is vital for maintaining wellbeing and stress management," said Lesley Tait, a personal performance and wellbeing coach at Her Supreme Self. "Regular team check-ins with built-in 'agenda-free' time allow for greater connection on a personal level. Being more present allows us to listen more intently and honing our listening skills will enable us to pick up on subtle cues that we might otherwise not notice during the normal working routine."

Create or get involved with a local community project

Often, a helpful way to reduce stress is to take up alternative hobbies or get involved in projects that have no personal agenda or external demands.

"Try creating a local recycling, donation, or collection scheme in the local community. It's an opportunity for people to share and do things together, helping each other with basic chores and needs. This will improve your social connections and help save resources in the long run," noted David Ko and Richard Busellato, sustainability advocates and authors of The Unsustainable Truth.

Join a meditation support group

Meditation might seem quite daunting to try on your own, so consider joining an online support group or even a class.

"It can take a while before you feel comfortable trying meditation alone. Sometimes it's helpful to journey alongside others, first learning how to practise conscious breathing before graduating on to longer periods of meditation. A supportive community is often more effective in mitigating stress than meditating in isolation," shared Gillian McMichael, a transformational coach and the author of Coming Home.

Try outdoor exercise with others

Not only is exercise beneficial for physical health, it often gives people the mental fresh start they need to tackle difficult tasks.

"Spending time immersed in the natural world, be that a park, a field, or a forest provides significant improvements in the function of your immune system, the function of your body and the function of your mind," added TJ Power, lecturer in psychology at the University of Exeter and contributing author to Success Secrets for Wellbeing. "With the world evidently quickly moving towards a technologically based society, it is important to actively prioritise consistently connecting with where you came from, the instinctive human part of yourself."