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10 Creative Ways To Make Your Neighborhood A More Lovely Place This New Year

10 Creative Ways To Make Your Neighborhood A More Lovely Place This New Year

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t know our neighbors. In a culture that is so digitally connected, more basic, everyday connections (like with physical neighbors) have become less of a priority. But caring for and taking pride in your neighborhood will make living there a much lovelier experience. Here are some ways that you can make your neighborhood a lovelier place to be in 2016.

1. Know your neighbors

It sounds simple. Getting to know your neighbors is so foundational, yet so easy to push to the back burner of life’s constant demands. With far-reaching social networks and the ability to communicate easily and quickly with friends and family from different neighborhoods, then what’s the hurry? But getting to know your neighbors will create a sense of community that goes beyond sharing a street. It will make a big difference if you are able to greet your neighbors on the sidewalk by name and ask them about their specific job or hobby.

2. Serve your neighborhood in all seasons

There will always be a need for sidewalks to be swept, hedges to be trimmed, and lawns to be mowed. There was a woman in a Chicago neighborhood who decided to take the day off work and shovel the entire block to make parking spaces available during a snow storm. She blessed her neighborhood and said that, “the look of awe on people’s faces was rewarding.”

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Serve your neighborhood and not only will your neighbors feel blessed, but you will feel blessed by the shock and gratitude that people in the twenty-first century feel when they see displays of selflessness.

3. Start a neighborhood tradition

Growing up, my neighborhood always had a Halloween parade where all the kids could show off their costumes, eat hot dogs, and begin trick-or-treating all together. It was such a fun time to meet other kids and it turned a holiday that individual families celebrated into something that created unity within our larger community. Start a Spring Garage Sale day, or a fourth of July block party. Beginning a tradition that people can look forward to and plan every year will make people feel more invested in your area.

4. Breed some healthy competition

There are two things that bring people together the most — a common enemy and some healthy competition. Begin a low stakes competition for the best kept lawn or the most festive holiday decorations. Host the final vote at your house and provide wine and cookies. People will devote their time and energy to winning, while simultaneously boosting the curb appeal of your neighborhood.

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5. Start a Block Watch

Speaking of common enemies, coordinating an effort to keep your neighborhood safe will benefit everyone in the area. Look up various ways to run a neighborhood watch and decide what is best for your community. Volunteer to be the point person in coordinating meetings or watch shifts. A safe neighborhood is a happy neighborhood.

6. Celebrate the kids in the community

Odds are that there are some children in your community. It might be easy to brush off children as simple de facto members of a community, but children are really the lifeblood of a neighborhood. They are the ones spending the most time outside playing. They probably have the most connections with their neighbors and they probably know the neighborhood better than most adult members do. Plan a back-to-school party or a giant birthday party for all the kids in the neighborhood. Make the littlest members of your community feel loved and seen.

7. Develop community spaces

Start a community garden or coordinate a more intentional play space for children in a cul-de-sac or court. Fostering the creation of spaces that members of the community have a vested interest in will create pride and connection in your neighborhood. It will also provide more opportunities for members of the neighborhood to run into each other and get to know one another.

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8. Focus on communication

It is easy to become isolated from your neighbors without a clear method of communication. If your neighbors are comfortable with it, compile a list of names, addresses, and numbers that can be emailed to the whole block. Or start a Facebook group where members of the community can interact, post photos, and make announcements about upcoming neighborhood events. Whatever way you choose, make sure all members of the community are included. Excluding certain neighbors will only drive wedges between your neighbors and make your neighborhood a more hostile place to live.

9. Start a “Care Watch” Committee

Similar to a Block Watch, this group of people will respond where there is a tragedy or a time when a member of the community is in need. If someone experiences a loss or has a child, the Care Watch Committee organizes a meal train to deliver meals to the family for a few weeks. Also, if someone is injured, the Care Watch Committee could organize members of the community to help out with yard work or simple everyday tasks. Having this safety net built into your neighborhood will make members feel safer and more cared for in their home.

10. Do unto others as you would have done unto you

The Golden Rule is a cliché for a reason — it works. If you want your neighborhood to be a much lovelier place to live this New Year, then begin treating the people around you how you would want to be treated. Help people with their groceries. Pick up trash in the street. Send Birthday cards. Cook people dinner. Be a servant to the people around you and your neighborhood will be transformed by selflessness and love.

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Featured photo credit: Loren Kerns via flickr.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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