Fall is a season most people look forward to in South Dakota. In addition to getting back into the school routine, many communities host fall festivals and other social events. With this year’s early blizzard in western South Dakota, communities are feeling helpless as they watch their residents deal with some extreme challenges in their lives. The community events of fall might be daunting to carry out as energy levels seem low.
Participation in social, leisure and physical activities is positively related to higher levels of health, self-esteem and life satisfaction. When stressful situations cause people to back out of participating, connections that are important for social networking go missing. While communities need to recognize that some residents’ energy will be needed keep their day-to-day operations functioning, other residents can make a critical differences by organizing gatherings that bring people together.
Low self-esteem and social isolation affect mental and physical health. Depression and loneliness have been found to be a higher risk factor for heart disease than stress, and rank alongside smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol. As a community, it may difficult to confront sad issues, but it may also be a great comfort to those who need their friends and neighbors to support them now.
How can communities pull together to help each other out during environmentally stressful times? It may be as simple as inviting your neighbor out to enjoy a social event. We all like to get a personal invitation, and when you’re feeling blue, it can be especially uplifting. It may be simply understanding what your neighbor is going through. Finances can get tight, extra time is needed to keep businesses and households going, and people feel overwhelmed with the inability to change the situation. Communities can be supportive places during stressful times. What are you doing to help your neighbor?