The next in this series of one thing for wellbeing is about connecting to others. Let’s have a look at why this is important and how you can do it in a way that suits your personality and circumstances.

What does connecting to others mean?

There have been many studies about the positive impact of connecting to others. From an increase in confidence to better mental health to increased life span to better emotional regulation to reducing loneliness to health benefits such as lower blood pressure. What’s not to like???

But, does it mean that you have to be our partying all of the time, or that your social diary has to rival that of a social media star? If that’s your thing, that’s great, but (thankfully) it doesn’t have to be that way.

And, it doesn’t stop there as when people in a neighbourhood connect, it makes for stronger communities too.

How to make it happen

With so much of our life spent on-line or remotely, making in-person connections can be more of a challenge. For some, that’s a blessing. If you have a preference for introversion, being on-line (with purpose) or connecting by phone can be an easier. Being with groups can increase stress levels for some.

In addition, your levels of feeling of connection isn’t so much to do with how many friends you have, but any kind of relationship with the outside world. You’ll have heard the expression of being lonely in a crowd. Feeling connected is all about releasing those feel good brain checmicals. Where might you share a commonality with others

What might it look like?

This is not an exhaustive list as it’ll be different for everyone.

  • The number, variety, and types of relationships you have. As we’ve said, the number isn’t so important, but having variety means that you’ll have connections to support you in different circumstances. Who would you ask for a lift to the hospital? Who might help you if your car breaks down?
  • Having regular contact with your connections will keep those brain chemicals flowing.
  • Sense of support from friends, families, and others in the community – not just in one place, but across all areas of your life.
  • Sense of belonging – this might be on-line with fellow enthusiasts even if you never meet.
  • Having close bonds with others, even if it’s only one or two good friends, but having someone whom you trust.
  • Feeling loved, cared for, valued, and appreciated by others – whether romantically or through friendships.
  • Access to safe public areas so that even if you’re not making conversation with others, you can be with them.

How to make social connections?

Consider the types of connections you already have. Can you attend a group more often, or on different days to meet different people? Are there places where you could join other groups? How about starting a group? Could you share ideas you have with others? I’m in a group making outfits for Chemo Ducks and other items to be sold to raise money. I’ve actually never met any of the others involved, but we’ve had regular contact for years and it’s a fabulous community, all brought together by our skills and shared sense of what we’re doing for children.

Continuing last week’s theme – where can you offer or ask for help? Many people found themselves in the position of being able to offer support to others during the pandemic; perhaps a role they’d never considered before. Remember to take care of yourself too though

Sometimes we just feel too busy to make time for connections, so where can you make space away from electronics and to do lists?

How about trying something completely new to you? Walking netball or football? Volunteering at your local community garden? Reading to children in schools? It might be something you can only do in holiday time or at weekends, so what would you choose? Maybe friends might inspire you with some of the things they do.

Arrange an event. Many have arranged street parties for special occasions such as the coronation, but you might just have a get together with friends and ask them all to bring one person that no one has met before so you’re expanding your network.

What’s one thing you’ll do?

So, now it’s time to take action. What will you do? What is one thing you can do this week to improve your feeling of connectedness. Share in the comments what you’re doing differently now.

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one thing for wellbeing - for your horse