Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.  The last two years have been the most challenging we have faced and in 2020 services were overwhelmed by people that are struggling and seeking support.  

This year’s theme is Community.  

Lack of support can cause loneliness and isolation, which in turn lowers people’s wellbeing, impacts mental health and can lead to mental illness. Social isolation is an important risk factor for both deteriorating mental health and suicide.

As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s vital that the community support experienced by many people during this challenging time continues. 

Elastic FM is a local community radio station that offers far much more than just playing music on the radio. We want to share valuable information that can support you and your families across our website and social media platforms. We want to make you aware of help and support that is available in our community as well as celebrate the successes of local businesses who are trying to thrive and not just survive.

Although restrictions have mainly been lifted, people need support now more than ever as they adjust to a new way of living.

The pandemic has had a hugely detrimental effect on the nation’s mental health and sense of community.  Disrupted social lives, the cancellation of large gatherings, travel restrictions and working from home have kept us in one place for long periods of time. However, one of the positives to emerge from this unparalleled situation has been the community spirit and support shown by so many to so many.

All of the board and presenters are volunteers, giving their knowledge and expertise to add value in the community and not expecting anything in return. They are also developing their skills daily whilst building a strong family bond & connection. In an earlier blog I share the 5 ways of wellbeing and volunteering (give) is one of those components as is learn and connect.

What is the meaning of community?

According to the dictionary “community is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” it’s also “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common

Why is community important?

Strong communities are critical because they’re often an important source of social connection and a sense of belonging. Participating in a community bonded by attitudes, values, and goals is an essential ingredient to enjoying a fulfilling life.

During the pandemic the board held a virtual meeting to explore our values and what was important to us as individuals to challenge whether those values are demonstrated throughout the team at Elastic FM. Here is a list of the values that we believe we all live & breath daily as we serve our community.

  • Professionalism
  • Honesty
  • Empathy
  • Reliability
  • Kindness
  • Patience
  • Authenticity
  • Loyalty
  • Humility
  • Friendliness
  • Integrity
  • Respect

We also explored the behaviours we wanted to see demonstrated and once again we believe that throughout the team we live and breathe these daily within the community.

  • Increased Support
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Drivers of initiatives
  • Commitment
  • Willingness to help
  • Increased Communication
  • Increased Positivity
  • Family Unit

A community is much more than just a group of people.  It’s about having a sense of belonging and connection to others and feel supported and accepted by them. Relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives. People who are more socially connected to family, friends, or their community are happier, physically healthier and live longer, with fewer mental health problems than people who are less well connected. People in neighbourhoods with higher levels of social cohesion experience lower rates of mental health problems than those in neighbourhoods with lower cohesion, regardless of how deprived or affluent a neighbourhood is. 

Volunteering may be especially good for reducing stress because, much like socialising, it turns our focus outwards.  Moreover, helping others with their problems, can help us gain a more positive perspective on our own difficulties.  Plus, there are the associated benefits of working together with other like-minded people to achieve a worthwhile goal.  These factors all weigh heavily on the positive side of the mental health spectrum, and so increase our mental wellbeing while uniting in us in a shared sense of purpose.

We are all individuals, and we each have a unique set of skills, knowledge and experiences.  However, we are not meant to exist in isolation or feel alone. Instead, we need to share our talents with others in a way that will bring value to our communities.  This is very much a reciprocal relationship as we will benefit from opportunities to grow and develop by learning from others too.   It’s a bit like a car.  The engine doesn’t work without a battery, oil and fuel, any more than the battery, oil and fuel can make the car move without the engine.  Each is an essential component of the whole.   And it’s the same for us, we are all part of something much larger, and we need the support of our communities if we are to live a happy and fulfilled life.

Please feel free to comment on this post or any of our social media posts to share how we can add even more value to our community and improve everyone’s mental health and happiness.