Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at George Mason University chapter.

Communities keep us safe and protect our mental, physical, and emotional health.

Audre Lord put it best when she said “without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression.” People have always needed community to thrive. We have always needed people to support and uplift us. In our digital age, where it’s increasingly easy to isolate oneself, make an effort to get together with those in your personal community. 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, society had to completely, and then partially, shut down for years. Just under a year ago, on May 11, 2023, the Center for Disease Control declared an end to the pandemic as a public health emergency (CDC). Society still has not returned to the way it was pre-pandemic, and some believe that going forward it might always be different. One way that the pandemic seemingly changed our world is that community has become increasingly digitized. We may choose to attend online classes instead of in-person classes, FaceTime a friend or family member instead of figuring out the logistics required to see them, or make telehealth appointments instead of going to a doctor’s or therapist’s office. These aren’t intrinsically bad things. But coupled with spending more time indoors, usually alone or with only your immediate household, they can add up to have consequences. 

Spending time with others is important for mental, physical, and emotional health. A 2019 study completed at the University of Notre Dame found that having a strong social network is linked to better health and wellness. The study found that having a close social circle improved stress, happiness, positive attitude, and self-assessed health (Plos One). Social isolation, meanwhile, is linked to higher rates of chronic disease and mental health issues (Time). 

Loneliness is becoming an epidemic in America and it has detrimental effects on people. The Cigna U.S. Loneliness Index found that almost half of the adults in America are lonely, and that students have higher loneliness scores than retirees. Students often have many more opportunities to spend time with peers than any other age group, so this should be surprising. As college students we have so many opportunities to spend time with other people. Whether that’s by joining clubs, playing an intramural sport, going to an on-campus event, or getting a student job or internship, there are so many ways to connect with others in college. I met my best friends just by going to class! 

Related: The Perks of Being a Member of the Her Campus Community

My friends give me the strength and support I need to work through the difficulties of life as a student, especially as someone with a chronic illness. I’ve found that spending time with them makes me so much happier and reduces my school and work related stress. Also, talking through issues that come up in my life with them helps me make better decisions. It also allows me to take time to rest and do things I enjoy. When left to my own devices, I tend to push myself too hard and try to be as productive as possible all the time. My friends remind me to take time to myself and have fun, and I remind them to do the same. We all need a reminder to relax sometimes, and having people close to you guarantees someone will tell you exactly that. And of course, we need our circle around us to help protect us from all the issues listed above.

This month, make hanging out with your close friends or loved ones a priority. Plan a joint study session or go out to get coffee on your break– whatever it takes to get together! If you don’t have anyone nearby that you want to see, try joining a new club or activity. Chances are you’ll meet someone who is looking for a friend, too. Spend some time with your close community this March, it’ll benefit you in the long run. 

Katarina Benson

George Mason University '25

Katarina Benson is the Editor in Chief at the Her Campus at George Mason chapter. She oversees all articles published at George Mason University. They are currently a junior majoring in English with a dual cultural studies and film studies concentration. Beyond Her Campus, Kat works as the public relations student coordinator and as an editorial assistant at George Mason. In her free time, Kat enjoys playing tennis, reading, and trying new cafes. She's a big fan of 90s shows and movies and loves to travel. They also post about books and reading at @strawberryblondefolklore on instagram.