Social connection

Do you regularly find yourself turning down invites from friends and family because you’re either too busy or too worn out from work?

It may be time to re-evaluate your work-life balance.

Social connections are essential to our wellbeing. Consistently sacrificing your social life for the sake of the business will eventually leave you feeling disconnected and dissatisfied. So, pull yourself away from the business and spend time with friends and family on a regular basis. Your social connections not only provide ongoing support and assistance during difficult times, they also provide much needed “down time”.

With the pace of modern life greatly reducing both the quantity and quality of our relationships, it’s more important than ever to be proactive about connection. This doesn’t mean setting aside unlimited time for casual acquaintances - it’s about building and nurturing meaningful, satisfying relationships with the people in your life.

Social connection and mental health

Staying socially connected is good for your mental health - it buffers the effects of stress, helps protect you from depression and can reduce the severity of the symptoms of mental ill-health. Researchers have also found that people who feel highly connected live longer.

Tips for increasing your social connection

  • Share good times: Feeling connected is an internal experience that we most often cultivate when we share good times with family and friends. Invite a neighbour over to watch the football, organise a family camping trip or a dedicated night with your best mates.
  • Aim for at least one close confidant: It’s important you have at least one person you trust and can talk to about things that matter to you. Don’t worry if someone doesn’t come straight to mind, just set yourself a goal to deepen your connection with someone you know.
  • Treat loneliness as a signal: When you are feeling lonely, don’t ignore it. Loneliness is a signal to us that it’s time to connect, like thirst is the signal to drink or hunger the signal to eat. Continually ignoring the signal of loneliness by refusing to act on it, can lead to chronic loneliness.
  • Become part of something bigger: Volunteering can help us stay connected with people through activities that also make a difference to the world. It doesn’t have to be big or take up too much of your time and energy. Go Volunteering list opportunities to match your interests.
  • Build new connections: If you’ve lost contact with people for a while or want to establish some new connections, there are many opportunities to explore:
    • Visit a social networking platform like Meetup to find people with similar interests in your area.
    • Join the local gym, sport club, men’s shed or craft group. Doing something you enjoy with people with similar interests can help break down social barriers.
    • Check out your local community centre or Eventbrite to find local events or courses you could attend to meet others.

Access Support

If these tips don’t help you feel more connected, it may be useful to talk to a health professional, like a therapist or counsellor. Start by making an appointment with your GP to discuss options about what support is available.

Further information and links

TEDx talk

John Cacioppo's discusses the lethality of loneliness.

youtube.com/watch?v=_0hxl03JoA0

TEDx talk: The simple cure for loneliness

Baya Voce discusses the simple cure for loneliness and what you can do to start creating more happiness, fulfillment, and connection.

youtube.com/watch?v=KSXh1YfNyVA

Australian Coalition to End Loneliness

A coalition of agencies, not-for-profits and research institutions working to address loneliness and physical isolation through evidence-based interventions and advocacy.

endloneliness.com.au

Public Lecture: Loneliness: a 21st Century challenge

Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad discusses the issues surrounding loneliness, how it affects us and what we as a society can do about it.

youtube.com/watch?v=EY6F2Va_Po8

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