Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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How to Increase Calm and Connections

There are many simple and cheap ways to address issues of stress and loneliness, including but not limited to:

* Any park or plaza can put a couple of benches facing each other, or a Friendship Bench, to encourage conversations.

* Most buildings have some space that is used less or not at all. Analyze usage to identify low-traffic areas that could be turned into a quiet room, breastfeeding room, prayer room, or other space that would make people's lives more relaxing.

* Nature helps people relax, but so do nature sounds and artwork.

* Waiting rooms can add a box of fidgets for visitors to use.

* Health providers, community centers, and human services should offer support to reduce loneliness. Do not pry or pester people about it. Simply put up a sign like, "Are you lonely? These are some warning signs that you might need more connection. Here are some resources we offer to help people connect." For instance, they might have support groups for life challenges, a shuttlebus to pick up folks who have trouble getting out to do things, or volunteers who visit people.

* Coffeehouses can put out a collection of games to play. I've seen this a few times.

* Coffeehouses and restaurants can provide a tabletop sign for people to put up if they are open to chatting with strangers. This not only encourages conversations, it conserves space.

* Every town should have a support group for people new to the area. Run these in cycles. If you have few people moving in, you might cycle it every 6-12 months over a wider area. If you have many moving in, you might cycle it every month or even week and focus on a smaller area so there are multiple groups around the city. This gives people a chance to connect with other folks sharing a similar experience and to learn about their new home together.

* Every large organization -- schools, businesses, apartment buildings, neighborhoods, etc. -- should provide resources to help its members connect with each other and find common ground. Offer tools for people to share their interests and identify those who like the same things. A school might have hobby clubs, a business could offer conversational carpooling, an apartment building might have a walking or jogging group, a neighborhood could establish a welcome committee to greet new neighbors, etc.

* Utilize under-used spaces such as church and school buildings outside their normal hours to host game nights, book clubs, conversation groups, and other opportunities for people to interact.

* Look for ways that people can just drop in whenever they have time, and easily find someone to interact with for a few minutes. Today's fractured schedules make it hard to plan ahead or make long-term commitments. This can be as simple as scattering conversation starters around a lobby or meeting room.

* Communities can take steps to reduce loneliness throughout their area.
Tags: community, how to, safety
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