Feeling connected improves mental wellbeing

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Why connect?

Connecting is effective in contributing to overall mental wellness, while also helping keep mental health conditions like depression and anxiety in check.

As humans, we are social beings by nature. We cannot thrive alone, as human interaction helps us to feel supported, appreciated and loved. Through connection, we find a sense of belonging.

In fact, close relationships with family and friends can add up to seven years onto our lives.

Despite modern technology making it easier to connect than ever before, many people still feel alone. Genuine connection often requires more investment than a quick scroll through social media, but its benefits are immense. Building and nurturing our relationships can help increase feelings of security while giving us a greater sense of purpose.

How do I help someone that’s struggling?

People with mental health conditions often experience feelings of isolation and a deterioration in the quality of relationships. Consider the below tips when helping friends and family that may be struggling with a mental health condition:

  • Pay attention to friends and family that are withdrawing, and engage in a conversation with them about it.
  • Remember their withdrawing isn’t personal- a deterioration in mental health may be what’s making them lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
  • Support them to understand there’s nothing wrong with them; they just need a little help getting back to their best.
  • Try to stay in touch as much as possible, and encourage them to reach out to a health professional or a peer support group.
  • Accompany them to activities they enjoy when the time is right.

How do I connect?

Connection can provide us with feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence, self-esteem, and engagement with the world. Think about what you can do to integrate genuine connection into your life. Perhaps you’d like to:

  • Implement a set weekly date to see friends or family. Honour your commitment by not cancelling events and activities, unless absolutely necessary.
  • Plan a trip or getaway with friends or family. This will include the added bonus of giving you something to look forward to.
  • Start a new activity, and invite existing friends in an effort to re-connect.
  • Start a new activity alone, and make an effort to connect with other people in the group. ‘Putting yourself out there’ can not only result in new friends, but also increased confidence and courage to try new things.
  • Have lunch with a colleague, rather than at your desk or on your own, in an effort to get to know them and talk about topics not related to your work.
  • Make time to visit someone who needs support or company.
  • Engage in an interactive activity with your family instead of watching TV tonight.
  • Volunteer with a cause close to your heart.

Now what?

Connecting with others brings more meaning to our own lives. Good and secure relationships provide a platform for emotional wellbeing, and an environment in which we feel heard, understood and validated. While they provide an opportunity to share positive experiences, they also provide safe space to share concerns.

Fostering genuine connection in the frenetic pace of daily modern life can be difficult, but it comes with endless benefits. Make connection a priority, and create a plan to connect with those around you today!