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Words by Emily Coogan

The contagion of care: four ways to cultivate collective wellbeing.

It turns out that loving thy neighbour is an act of self-care. Just as nourishment of the self can be measured by the various personal endeavours of care, community is measured by the ways we look out for others. Combining those two ideas leaves us with collective wellbeing, the preservation and promotion of health on both levels.

Health as a collective influences our condition as individuals, promoting the vitality of our interpersonal environments. Within friendship groups, offices, community circles and cities, the way we communicate, care for and coexist with one another can be bolstered by our peers, shaping our wellbeing from the outside in.

Here are four ways to uplift those around you, in the name of self-care.

Phone a friend.

Socialising is one of the healthiest things we can do, and phone calls aren’t just for quick catch-ups and fielding on-the-run questions. Even for those with introverted personalities, connection is important and the convenience of a phone call facilitates more than a simple chat. There might be no conversation to be had, replaced by sincere compliments, proclamations of pride in one another, genuine praise, and generally slowing down the way we feel to appreciate the way others do the same.

Celebrate everything - every little thing!

The breakneck speed of our busy lives mean we skim past the small wins without so much as a pat on the back. No rule dictates that we should stop at birthdays and anniversaries - why not celebrate the things that make each week a little shinier, together?

Ask questions, chase answers.

Communication is central to human flourishing, and being generous with our time is the only way to listen. As our attention spans wane and life accelerates, the back-and-forth of conversation can quickly become a game of speaking at each other, rather than to each other. By asking Qs and taking time to listen to the As, we can facilitate compassion in every interaction.

Be present.

Connection is the common thread in wellbeing, marked by efforts to be available and present with others. The urges to check phones, work late and live online put distance between ourselves and our peers, achieving the exact opposite effect. Making an effort to be present when we’re with others, creating plans both big and small and showing up with nothing but attention is a dream of connection.

We can liken collective wellbeing to the idea of gardening, as we tend to each individual flower in our plot to ensure the entire bed thrives. Companionship breeds optimism, creating an economy of wellbeing that is contingent on people giving and others reaping. Servicing each other with the wonders of company and genuine care might just be a vehicle for communal prosperity.

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Self Care™ Originals respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country on which we work, the Wurundjeri Willam people, and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.