Relationships and social connectedness are vital to all aspects of our wellbeing. In her TED Talk, author and Harvard researcher Brené Brown said, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people.”
Yet nearly 75% of women report feeling dissatisfaction in their friendships. Despite our need to belong, modern day life often works against us. Additionally, life has challenges that often hit women particularly hard such as fear, guilt, self-doubt, body image issues, and discrimination.
This is why it’s so important to connect with other women and build a community.
BENEFITS OF QUALITY RELATIONSHIPS
There is an ongoing Harvard study that has been following the same two groups for 75 years. The biggest takeaway from the study has been that good relationships keep people happier and healthier.
However, it wasn’t the number of friendships that people had or whether or not they were in a committed relationship that mattered. It was actually about the quality of their relationships.
Living with a lot of conflict proved to be detrimental, whereas healthy relationships were emotionally, physically, and even cognitively protective. For the participants in the study, relationship satisfaction was an even more accurate predictor of future health than cholesterol levels and medical records like that.
Quality relationships have shown again and again to reduce stress and increase joy. It’s pretty incredible the affects it has on our physical and cognitive health as well.
HOW TO BUILD COMMUNITY
Shasta Nelson, author and founder of GirlFriendCircles, says that relationships are “gymnasiums of the soul” where we can work out our compassion, empathy, and forgiveness muscles. Through this she believes friendships can actually save the world. So how can we find and build community as women?
Doing good feels good. This is why helping others kindles happiness in ourselves as well. When you volunteer for a cause you are passionate about, it connects you to other people with that same passion and value. Studies have supported that volunteering is beneficial to mental health as well.
Check out your local listings or run a search on a website like VolunteerMatch to find where you can make the world a better place.
2. Get Online
With other websites like Meetup, you can find groups of like-minded people already doing the things you want to do. Browse by interest and location to find ongoing events and get-togethers. There are so many opportunities to engage with others in a hobby you already love or even to learn a new skill.
Another option is sort of like Tinder but for women’s friendships. The Hey! VINA app shows you profiles of other users that you can choose whether or not you think you would click with. If they also choose you, then you match and can chat and eventually meet up in person.
3. Workshops and Retreats
Workshops are a wonderful way to learn more about a certain topic and find a supportive group of people to learn from and connect with. They typically are geared toward a specific aspect of life whether it’s mental health, career, sensuality, wellness, or something else.
Attending something longer like a retreat is a really incredible opportunity for much needed self-care alongside a group of women with similar goals. It provides an environment to invest in yourself in a guilt-free setting with no outside responsibilities, obligations, or expectations.
As you travel to a beautiful destination, your exposure to a different place, different people, and different activities will open you up to new perspectives and changes you may want to bring into your life.
Mindful Health runs several wellness retreats each year. Two upcoming retreats are in Aurora, New York and Playa Ocotal, Costa Rica. These are women’s retreats full of laughter and meaningful conversation where you explore your beliefs, emotions, and physicality. Here you will find the support to show up in life as your best self.
Grace Furman is a freelance writer and blogger at Heartful Habits. Heartful Habits is a place of inspiration and support for your natural health and wellness journey. She loves learning and sharing about wellness tips, natural remedies, beauty DIYs, green cleaners, and more.