Anchor yourself in the community and create a social network
Cavan GP, Dr. Dara Hume, has an important message to promote positive mental health and well-being…
Isn’t Ireland the most beautiful country when the sun is shining? And even when it’s not? Forty shades of green and all that! I am fortunate to live near several lakes, so invigorating walks, beautiful scenery, interesting nature to observe and swimming in the lake (weather permitting) are all on my doorstep. In this county of “more lakes than days of the year”, just explore your area to find out what’s there.
A widower friend of mine recently lay with a nasty fracture. She couldn’t drive, shop, cook, even dress without help. She remarked on how blessed she felt and how, solely through the kindness and kindness of her friends, family and neighbors, her recovery might not have gone so well. (That said, the same lady has the determination of two people, and a ‘go for it’ attitude that is truly inspiring!
She told me that she thinks the reason she has such a helpful group of people around her is because of her involvement in the community. This got me thinking…
What is really important to us in our lives? In the years to come, if we were to reflect on our lives, would we say that we wished we had worked harder or longer, wished we had made more money, lived in a bigger house, or driven a more luxurious car? I very much doubt it. In fact, I suspect it will be quite the opposite. So let’s all do a simple exercise – try to imagine yourself in your 80s, telling a small child what has gone well in your life, what you are most proud of, what you are happy about. ‘have done.
It would be wonderful to be able to say that you are most proud of your family, not your job, that you are happy that you may have taken risks, done fun things, helped people, made people happy, appreciated life and lived life to the end. None of these things actually cost money (well, unless skydiving/bungee jumping is on your risk-to-take list!). But giving people a chance, getting involved in local events, maybe charity work, getting to know your neighbors, helping out in the locality, all of these things help us to be involved in the communities in which we live and to do us all.
So who are these central people in our lives who will help us when we are in trouble? Most of us have five to ten people in our world who we trust, who know us very well, but who don’t know all of our secrets. They are our close confidants, those with whom we can share our worries and concerns, and those whom we trust to help ease our anxieties and problems. These close friends don’t tend to change significantly over our lifetimes unless they drift away, but even then they are available to us by phone or through media links.
However, our world can also expand considerably beyond that to include those we are just chatting with over the fence, or in the supermarket, or when we are walking. People with whom we may not share our deepest thoughts, but are delighted to see and spend a few minutes of our time in their company. Both bands are so important in our lives, supporting us through good times and bad.
Immersing yourself in our communities can be relatively easy if you’re involved in GAA, rugby, football or other sports, meeting other people at games, collecting kids, grandkids , etc. However, if you are not involved in sports there are a myriad of other organizations – Men’s Sheds or Hen’s Sheds, Tidy Towns, Comhaltas, clubs and societies such as gardening, crafts, walking , as well as St Vincent de Paul, SOSAD, Civil Defense, the Good Morning program, etc. By getting involved in our communities, we meet our neighbors, we make friends (often for life), we feel good about ourselves, we have the opportunity to help others and we build social bridges that support us. , especially as we get older, just like my friend mentioned above.
It’s the people who drive us, who make life worth living.
So please try not to have any regrets in life, try to live your life to the fullest, visit your neighbours, especially those who live alone, get involved in things in your community, reach out hand to those you know need help and aim to be able to look back in your 80’s and say in the immortal words of Frank Sinatra “Let the record show, I took the beating, and I did it my way.”
Take care and stay safe out there.
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