The Wellbeing Toolkit: You and Us Together

This guide is part of The Wellbeing Toolkit in partnership with Shady Rays Impact, for more articles within this guide, visit the main resource hub.

About Shady Rays Impact: Shady Rays Impact is the charitable giving foundation for Shady Rays. They never wanted to settle for being a company that just sells sunglasses – they want to make a difference every day. Through research and talking directly to their fans, Shady Rays found the causes that give purpose to their work. Together, Shady Rays is helping people live healthy, courageous lives through some of their most challenging moments.So far, they’ve provided more than 25 million meals to fight hunger across America and removed millions of plastic bottles from our world’s oceans.Making an impact matters…and they’re just getting started.

After the events of the last few years, it’s become apparent that many of us are feeling more alone or a or experiencing more of a sense of loneliness than ever before. Recent studies have indicated that even though we live in a world that is more digitally connected than ever, we are feeling a loss of friendship and the togetherness that comes from spending time with other people. It’s also been cited that if you’ve graduated high school and gone on to university within the Covid-19 pandemic, that you may not have had the same opportunities to build key friendships and relationships like others have. If you’ve started a remote working job, there’s a good chance you might not get to interact with as many people as before – or you may have experienced friends moving away and less in person events than you perhaps would previously have been to.

Given the events that have happened and are still ongoing from the past few years, we can often feel a sense of overwhelm, and like things are completely out of our control. This can make us feel isolated and have our mental health and general sense of wellbeing suffering as a result. However, focusing on the smaller things, and a sense of community or the people around us that share similar interests can help us feel a sense of hope which is incredibly important to our general health.

So how can you start to build a sense of community with other people who share your interests?

Below, we’ve outlined some key ideas to get you thinking about how you can feel more a sense of purpose and community with those around you for a better sense of wellbeing.

Identify Your Passions

Finding other people who share your passions, views and opinions can help you grow, feel more connected and improve your overall wellbeing. Developing a support network of people who understand you and what you might be going through can also be incredibly vital, as can your help and support to them. Spend some time thinking about what it is that interests you? There’s a good chance if you’re here, your interests lay in the outdoors and time spent in nature. Are you looking to join a monthly hiking group? Do you work in a specialist job and want to find an outdoors group exclusively for people who have a similar role to you? Are you keen to campaign for better resources in an outdoors recreation area you love? Are you looking to find likeminded people who also care about wider issues faced in the outdoors to work together with? Whatever it is that lights you up, use this as the basis for where you go next. It’s also no problem if you find more than one interest that you like the idea of exploring further – you can always experiment with what feels right.

“We know through research that spending time in nature with others can foster a sense of togetherness and community, creating a shared experience and social connectiveness. Whether it’s hiking through the mountains, camping under the stars, or simply taking a stroll through the park, these experiences offer the opportunity to bond with our others in ways that are both meaningful and therapeutic. This sense of community not only increases our overall sense of wellbeing, but also has positive effects on the environment, as we become more invested in protecting the natural world around us. So let’s disconnect from our screens and immerse ourselves in nature with others, take the time to breathe in the fresh air, bask in the sunshine, and appreciate the beauty of nature together – for the sake of our own health, and for the betterment of our community.”

— Chris Dolan,

Seek it out

Working out what you’re interested in is only the first step for finding communities that you can either build or join. However, this can also feel like one of the most daunting parts too – as knowing where to start can be incredibly tricky. A good first place to start is to look on social media around what it is that interests you as many organisers will post about events online. If you’re looking to join in the good work being done by an organisation or within some form of activism, checking out their website to see if they have any resources on how you can get involved can be a great first step. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to people you might know, or just know through social media who you believe to have similar wants and aims as you – you never know who from your network you might be able to form an alliance with. There are also plenty of geo specific meet up websites who are likely to host a whole number of events in your area just a short web search away. It’s also worth checking out local stores or co-op style set ups – for example, local park clean-ups may be listed in places like this too. Be creative here – you never know where something might lead and don’t get disheartened if you don’t hear back straight away or it doesn’t come into action right at the start.

“Our mission includes assembling groups of people to build backyard playsets for kids who are fighting cancer. What we’ve found over the years is that people who want to give back, and want to do so in an active, physical, and rewarding way, find common ground and build lasting relationships on our build sites. The act of working hard and participating in these memorable experiences together creates strong bonds between people even when they are from very different backgrounds.”

— Eric Newman, founder and chief play officer of non profit Roc Solid Foundation

Do it in manageable ways

It’s important to remember that you can only do your best and you can only devote the time that you can to the activities and sense of community you’re looking to bring into your life. You don’t have to do everything, and you also don’t have to feel guilty if you can’t attend every event – you don’t even need to have a reason why – it’s your life and we all need to keep the balance with everything else we need to do. Remember, this should be enriching, not a chore.

If you’re someone who finds meeting new people a little daunting, try to remember that its perfectly normal and you don’t have to be the life and soul of the party if that isn’t you. The more you’re involved, the more confident you’re likely to feel, so take it slowly and only do what feels manageable for you.

Don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t work out all the time

Coming into things with an attitude of exploration is really important here and an openness to see where things go. Within this, it might be that the first thing you try, or even the tenth thing you try just aren’t right for you. And that’s OK! Try to not feel too disheartened if you don’t find ‘your place’ or where and what feels right for you every time – if you’re exploring new things, some will feel good and some will just not quite fit. Be honest with yourself as well, there is no need to do something just because you feel you should and because you decided you wanted to. The chances are, if you’re not really into it, you won’t give it your all and it may even drain your energy from other things. Feeling a sense of community in whatever way you do, should be about feeling a sense of joy. There’s always other things to try and other avenues to explore – and you may even find that something you didn’t enjoy as much gives you more of a sense of clarity for what you would actually enjoy.