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The Importance of Community: Nurturing Connection for Improved Mental Health

An Article by Andrew Mitchell, Founder of The Design Coach


Image by Melanie Kanzler, Unsplash

The creation of a strong community is a big part of our mission at The Design Coach. We’re committed to helping foster meaningful connections and provide ongoing opportunities for our members to build strong relationships that can positively impact the way they live their life and conduct their business.


In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, it’s all too easy to feel disconnected from those around us. Running a small business can often feel isolating and lonely, especially on the back of a pandemic that forced many of us to retreat into the safety of our own homes.


Loneliness has become a pervasive issue, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. The negative impact of this isolation on mental health cannot be overstated. However, by fostering a sense of community and prioritizing meaningful connections, we can combat the loneliness epidemic and promote overall well-being. In this article, we look at some of the statistics surrounding loneliness, delve into the importance of community, and discuss how nurturing connections can contribute to improved mental health.


Image by Kristina Tripkovic, Unsplash

The Loneliness Epidemic


Loneliness has emerged as a significant societal problem, with alarming statistics highlighting its prevalence. According to a 2021 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 61% of adults* reported feeling lonely at least some of the time. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this issue, with prolonged lockdowns and social distancing measures leaving many individuals feeling isolated and cut off from their support networks.


Loneliness is not limited to any specific age group or demographic. Approximately 1 in 4 Australians admit to having experienced loneliness at some point in their lives, and 2 in 5 (approx. 44%) Australians between the age of 16 and 85 have experienced some form of mental health disorder in their lifetime**.


However, loneliness is harming more than just our mental health. It’s also associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death***.


“The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity.”

Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States


These sobering statistics underscore the urgent need for fostering connections and building a stronger sense of community the world over.


Many of our members tell us that they find working alone challenging and find the responsibility of running a solo practice at times overwhelming. By providing opportunities for designers to share their wins and challenges with likeminded business owners, we believe we’re helping to bridge the gap in genuine connections.


Image by Rosie Sun, Unsplash

The Link Between Community and Mental Health


Community and mental health are inherently intertwined. The sense of belonging and social support that comes from being part of a community has been proven to have significant positive effects on mental well-being. Numerous studies have shown that individuals with strong social connections experience lower levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.


When we feel connected to others, we have a support system that offers emotional validation, empathy, and a sense of belonging. Sharing experiences, joys, and challenges with others who understand us helps to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. In turn, this can enhance our overall mental resilience, boost self-esteem, and promote a more positive outlook on life.


Image by Hannah Busing, Unsplash

Community as a Protective Factor


Being part of a community serves as a protective factor against the negative consequences of stress and adversity. Life inevitably presents us with challenges, but having a support system can help buffer the impact of these difficulties on our mental health. A strong community provides opportunities for individuals to seek advice, receive encouragement, and gain practical assistance when needed.


Furthermore, community involvement fosters a sense of purpose and meaning. Engaging in activities that contribute to the betterment of the community cultivates a sense of pride and accomplishment. This, in turn, can positively impact our self-esteem and overall satisfaction with life.


The community we are building at TDC is based on common values of inclusion, acceptance and kindness. Within our community, we’re also proud to see smaller networks developing that might be based on location (we have members around the world), experience level or common interests.


Image by Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash

Nurturing Connections in the Digital Age


In an era dominated by digital communication, the definition of community has expanded. While online platforms and social media can offer opportunities for connection, it’s essential to strike a balance between virtual and real-world interactions. Face-to-face connections are vital for fostering deep and meaningful relationships that have a profound impact on our mental well-being.


At TDC, even though we host many online programs and courses, members are still able to meet face-to-face at our Retreats, Masterclasses and Social Club events. Feedback about these events is very often focused on the amazing group of individuals we bring together and the common bonds they share:


“Be prepared to make friendships for a lifetime with other like-minded design lovers, the kind of friendships that engulf your heart in warmth.”

Shilpa Mohan, 2021 Retreat Member


To nurture connections, we actively encourage members to engage with their local communities. Participating in community events, through our Social Club, helps to forge new connections and build lasting relationships. By doing so, we create opportunities for both personal growth and collective well-being.


Members of the 2021 Retreat in Byron Bay

Building an Inclusive Community


Creating an inclusive community is crucial for ensuring that everyone feels valued and supported. We must strive to break down barriers and embrace diversity in all its forms. Celebrating differences and promoting empathy and understanding will help foster a community where everyone feels safe and accepted.


In an era marked by increasing rates of loneliness and isolation, it is more important than ever to prioritize community and connection. The statistics surrounding loneliness serve as a wake-up call, reminding us of the urgent need to nurture meaningful relationships.


If you’re interested in fostering amazing relationships with other designers and architects, consider joining us at our New Zealand Retreat in October 2023. Our 7 day program of workshops, wellness experiences, property tours and incredible shared meals all help to encourage connection on a deeper level.


To join our amazing TDC community, simply sign up as a member (it’s free). Members get access to free Social Events throughout the country, monthly Free Member Group Coaching sessions and our life-changing Retreats and Trips.


Find out more about The Design Coach: who we are and what we stand for.


Stay well, and believe in you!



REFERENCES

*Figures taken from a 2021 report in the USA by the Kaiser Family Foundation

**Statistic from the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) in 2022

***Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, 2023 Report by The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community

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