A Supportive Community & Connection Heals

While I think we have to address the way we eat, I believe that having support and a community behind you is often left out of the equation.

According to several studies (and my own experience), the “secret” to healing is a strong community. Yep, you read that right: Having a social network or a group of people to which you feel connected significantly strengthens your immune system, lowers stress, boosts mood, decreases mortality, and supports overall wellbeing in humans. (PMID: 20943583)

And there’s even stronger evidence of this for women in particular. This was a particularly interesting snippet from the article on how women react differently to stress:

Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.

I don’t know about you, but this didn’t surprise me. You have probably experienced the health-promoting effects of your closest relationships already. Every time your partner makes you laugh, or your best friend patiently listens to you unload about your latest drama, or your mom gives you a giant hug—your healing speeds up just a tad. Even connecting with our pets can help boost our health by increasing how much oxytocin the body releases. This creates a feeling of happiness. My little Moosey man (tiny dog in my stories on IG) is sitting on my lap right now, making working on a Sunday much more enjoyable.

What I’ve Learned About Community

I worked 1:1 with clients for many years and finally created a group program in the fall of 2020 and wish I did it SO much sooner. At the end of this program, we all wanted to stay together. We were sad we wouldn’t have our regular Zoom calls and online community to connect. One of the most significant pieces of feedback I got from the program was how much they liked the group aspect. I even got this from women that didn’t participate as much in the group as others. When I asked more questions about this, the response I got was that even if the person didn’t ask many questions, just listening to other women share their stories and troubleshoot felt reassuring. They knew that they would be met by like-minded women on a similar journey when joining that call or going into the online community. Many women said they didn’t think they would have done as well if they didn’t have the group.

Women’s health is my whole world. I’m always talking with women about their health histories and stories. This sometimes makes me forget that so many women don’t have that. At the end of the last group, I wanted to keep the community going and continue to build on it. This led me to make the Master Your Minerals Course Community where anyone in the Master Your Minerals Course can come and connect with other women.

On a more personal note, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve truly learned the value of community and friendships. When my husband joined the military, and we moved for the first time, it was a shock. I was away from friends and family for the first time, and my health took a dive. I had to learn how to make new friends and build a new community every time we moved. Being able to call a friend or neighbor to hang out and chat is so important. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment–you will never regret making those plans.

Ideas for Building a Supportive Community

While it may feel harder to connect in person, there are tons of online options that you can get started with. I’ve actually joined a mastermind group that is 100% online, but ended up meeting up in person with some of the women in a smaller setting. It is possible and I have a few ideas on how you can begin to do this (if you don’t have a supportive community already).

Joining A Program/Class On A Specific Interest

One of the best ways to build a supportive community is to find people you connect with. Maybe you have a hobby you have wanted to pick back up or something you want to try for the first time. When you go to that class, whether it is on Zoom or in person, I think it’s important to make an effort to connect. This could mean talking to someone after or sending a private message during the class (you can do that in Zoom chats) to connect at a later date.

Here are some ideas:

  • Book clubs
  • Art/music class
  • Yoga/dance/movement class
  • Spiritual communities–whether you practice a specific religion or want to focus more on energy healing, there are tons of options out there. I have found the most amazing connections amongst this type of group.
  • Online programs/courses that also have a community aspect

Prioritize Time In Your Schedule–Go Out Of Your Way For Community

While the idea of building a supportive community is nice, it does take time and intention. We have to prioritize time to connect with others. This often looks like reaching out to others and setting a date in our calendars. Maybe it’s a longstanding meet-up with a friend or a weekly/monthly class you attend. Life happens, and we won’t always be able to attend, but creating that space for community, relationships, and FUN will be something you look forward to.

Share The Love–Let Someone Know You’re Thinking About Them

You can also build community and support by supporting others. Life gets busy, and we all have a lot on our plates, which is why taking the time to send someone you love a letter/surprise in the mail or reaching out to them to let them know you are there means so much to people. Whenever someone I care about reaches out to me, it reminds me of what really matters in life. It’s not working constantly or filling up my schedule with things I “should” be doing. It’s taking time to connect and just be. Creating space for these moments is life-changing for you and those around you.

I hope this inspires you to continue to build and grow your own supportive community.

If you are interested in getting started on your healing journey and being apart of a community of women then check out my master your minerals course where you get free access to the Master Your Minerals course community where you can lean on other course members.

reminder: i’m currently taking on 1:1 clients. if you’d like to explore what it would be like to work together and if we are a good fit, fill out this form to get more details!​

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

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