Cultivate health and happiness: socialize with your neighbours

June 30, 2015

The more social you are, the healthier you're likely to be. Anxiety can raise stress hormones in your body that can raise blood sugar and exacerbate insulin resistance. So use one of these excuses to get yourself out of the house or invite others over.

Cultivate health and happiness: socialize with your neighbours

Plan a block party

  • Contact your local police department for information about permits and make flyers well ahead of time to round up a group of block party committee leaders.
  • Be sure to plan healthy activities, such as scavenger hunts, hide and seek and flag football.
  • Make a menu sign-up list that has plenty of healthy vegetable dishes and fresh fruit options — and don't forget lots of bottled water so you stay hydrated and won't waste calories on soda or alcohol.

Have a weekly comedy night

  • Gather some friends on your street to watch a weekly TV show you all love and can laugh at together. Not only does laughing increase those feel-good hormones called endorphins, it also decreases blood pressure, pain, anxiety — and even blood sugar!
  • If there's nothing funny on television, take turns sharing your favourite funny movies with friends. If you're going to have food, save it for after the show so you don't unconsciously gobble up calories, and suggest that snacks be limited to air-popped popcorn and fresh fruit.

Start a monthly book club

  • Network with your friends and neighbours to find interested members, or visit your local library, church, community centre or independent bookstore to post flyers inviting people to e-mail or call if they're interested.
  • You can either have round-robin meetings where each meeting is held at a different person's house, or ask if one of the establishments above would be willing to host meetings.
  • Too busy to read books? No worries; buy or borrow audio books. Listen to them on your walks, then get together with the group to discuss.

Attend a council meeting

  • If you attend a local town, city or regional council meeting, you'll stay apprised of the happenings, find volunteering opportunities and meet others in your community.
  • Call your city, go online or check the local section of your newspaper to find out when and where meetings are held.

Organize a local bike ride

  • Organize a bike ride with friends or neighbours, or search online for bicycle tours in your city.
  • In most cases people of any skill level can join a bike tour: you'll travel a route supported from start to finish with rest stops, food to replenish your energy and fans and volunteers cheering you on.

Visit the elderly

  • It's as simple as searching online and calling nearby assisted living facilities. There are also organizations that deliver meals to seniors, and you can volunteer for those as well.
  • Another option is to check with your place of worship. You can visit someone who is in the hospital for a short stay or adjusting to a new apartment.
  • Not sure what to talk about? People love to talk about themselves, so ask historical questions. Not sure what to do? Bring flowers, a book to share, a checkerboard, some dominoes or a deck of cards.
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