By Peter Davis, Pharmacist and facilitator of the Caloundra Bi-polar support group
Having a strong support network is a positive step toward achieving positive mental health, but for many Australians, it can be hard to identify people on which to depend on.
Psychologists have found that human beings have a fundamental need to form close relationships and be included in group life. Being social and forming close relationships help us to stay motivated, meet challenges, and take risks.
However, Australians are increasingly feeling isolated and disconnected from those around them. Sometimes isolation can occur through the decisions we make ourselves, or because of our circumstances such as travelling for work, or relocation.
Regardless of its cause, isolation has a significant impact on both physical and mental health. It can impact our diet, sleep, motivation, physical health, use of substances and feelings of self-worth. When presented in the workplace, isolation can have an impact on our quality of work and ability to meet deadlines.
Seven ways to become more social
Small steps to becoming more social within our workplaces and communities can go a long way to combating feelings of loneliness.
1. Reach out to friends and family
Staying in contact with our friends and family helps us to feel a part of the bigger picture. Having people to depend on, and being a support person to others helps validate feelings of self-worth and self-love.
2. Get out in your community
Going for a walk in your local area and smiling at each person you walk past is a great way to become familiar with the people who live in your area.
3. Find your passion
Reignite your love of an old hobby or test out a new one by joining groups in your area. Try looking online, in local Facebook groups, at your library or on poster boards at your grocery shop.
4. Join groups and committees in your workplace
Join or start a committee in your workplace about something you feel passionately about. By helping your organisation become more diverse on environmentally friendly will help you feel more connected to your peers while benefiting your organisations Corporate Social Responsibility.
Helping others is a great start to helping yourself.
6. Consider getting a pet
Fury friends are a great support for people who are experiencing loneliness and isolation.
7. Seek help
If persistent feelings of loneliness are causing you distress reach out to one of the many Australian organisations which can offer you support in times of need.
If you are feeling isolation or loneliness in your work or personal life, EPIC can help you find community groups and support based on your interests and needs.