How was your Valentine’s Day? Sure, you might think it’s a cheesy excuse for shops to make more money out of us – but, actually, there’s probably never been a time when we had as strong a need to celebrate love.
And not only romantic love. Being cut off from friends and family for the greater part of two years has shown many of us just how much those relationships mean to us.
What you might not have known, though, is that social connection is crucial to both mental and physical health. In fact, studies show that the brain experiences negative social interactions (like rejection) in much the same way as it experiences physical pain. Apart from that, our social connections help to boost our resilience, making it easier for us to weather trying times, improve self-esteem, give us extra confidence, and even lower stress. They can even make us live longer.
If you feel your connections have been lacking lately, here are a few ways to give them a boost:
- Work on your relationship with yourself. You won’t have much to offer a friend if you’re battling to sort out your own issues.
- Say ‘yes’. After months of lockdown, many of us have become accustomed to the couch – but getting out will give you more opportunities to build and cement friendships.
- Ditch the screen. Yes, it’s easy to make a quick connection with a WhatsApp – just to let someone know you’re thinking of them. The problem with this is that it allows you to keep in touch without actually giving very much of yourself. Next time, instead of sending a message, send an invitation for coffee – then sit down and enjoy a real life conversation.
- Remember the small moments. Birthdays, doctor’s appointments, career milestones –whether they’re celebrated or dreaded, each of these occasions is far more memorable if shared. Take the time to message someone when you know there is something big going on in their life – they’ll feel honoured.