This week in Mental Health Awareness week and we want to share how, in our fast-paced and impersonal world, how taking time to visit Fleet and support local business can be good for your mental wellbeing.
- It creates a sense of belonging and community: Local businesses are often owned and operated by people who live locally, with many having lived in or near Fleet for decades. They love Fleet for the same reasons you do – the friendly people, closeness to countryside, good schools and great connections by road and rail. Shopping in Fleet gives you the opportunity to interact with the business owners, employees, and other customers, reinforcing a sense of belonging and community, which can have a positive impact on your mental well-being.
- Increased social interactions: Shopping locally allows for more social interactions compared to online shopping, where the closest you often get to ‘talking’ to someone is to negotiate with a less-than-helpful chatbot. In Fleet many businesses owners know their regular customers, not just their likes and dislikes but also about you as a person, taking a genuine interest in you and your family. Interactions, whether a friendly chat with the shop owner or conversations with other customers, have been linked to lower levels of stress, improved mood, and enhanced overall mental health. Additionally, the personal touch and personalized customer service often found in local stores can make you feel valued and appreciated.
- Feel good about supporting the local economy: By shopping locally, you contribute to the growth and sustainability of our local economy, with most small businesses relying on your support to thrive. When you spend your money at local shops, a significant portion of it stays within our community, supporting local jobs, services, and infrastructure. Knowing that you are making a positive impact on your community can create a sense of purpose and satisfaction, benefiting your mental well-being.
- Enjoy unique and curated experiences: Local businesses often offer unique products and services reflecting the character of our local community, whether that is products sourced locally, or something new and different they know you’ll love. We also have a weekly Saturday market in Gurkha Square, a great opportunity to meet local suppliers and find out more about their products. Sharing these little finds on social media also feels like a ‘random act of kindness’ known to uplift your spirits and boost your mental well-being.
- Reduced environmental impact: Many people live within walking distance of Fleet, and taking exercise and spending time outside is known to boost your mood, particularly at this time of year when trees are in leaf. In addition, local businesses tend to have shorter supply chains, resulting in fewer transportation-related emissions and a smaller carbon footprint. Many small businesses also prioritise sustainable and eco-friendly practices. We have Scoop, our amazing zero waste shop but many others will also act ethically, for example by selling vegan or fair trade products.
While we’re not claiming this is a cure to the mental health crisis we are currently facing, shopping locally does offer a multitude of benefits for your mental health. It fosters a sense of belonging, provides opportunities for social interactions, supports the local economy, offers unique experiences, and reduces environmental impact. So next time you want to buy something, step away from the impersonal and embrace the personal connections and positive impact by shopping locally.
Need more advice and support?
Here are some websites and resources you might find of use
- Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/ or call 116 123 from any phone, any time.
- Mental Wellbeing Hampshire: https://www.hants.gov.uk/socialcareandhealth/publichealth/mentalwellbeinghampshire
- The mental health charity, Mind’s, guide to seeking help: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/seeking-help-for-a-mental-health-problem/where-to-start/
- Mental Health Crisis helplines: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/crisis-services/helplines-listening-services/
- Counselling and coaching from local company Hartwood Health based in Fleet Town Centre: https://www.hartwoodhealth.co.uk/counselling-and-coaching