The Importance of Social Connection
Social connection is key to our physical, mental and emotional well-being. The basics of maintaining our health is commonly known; eat your greens, be active, get adequate rest and the list goes on. However, how many of us know that social connection is AS important.
Social connection improves our immune system and helps us recover from disease; it can even increase our life expectancy. People that have strong social connections tend to have higher self-esteem, with less anxiety and depression. Humans are biologically driven to connect with others, we’re primed to care for another for survival of our species. We are social creatures, so it’s natural to feel the desire to connect with others.
So, what is social connection? It’s the connections you have when you feel you belong. It’s the feeling that you’re a valued friend or family member. When you have strong social connections, you feel a greater sense of satisfaction in your life. Social connection generates more openness with others, allowing trusting relationships to form and the feeling of social isolation to diminish.
We may believe that material objects, money, power or beauty will make us happy. And they will, for a short time, but these desires won’t deliver lasting satisfaction and joy. For at the origin of these beliefs is the deep seeded need we have to belong. And that, my friend, comes through connection with others. Take your mind back to a time you may have felt rejected, the pain is real. Researchers have suggested that the same parts of the brain are triggered during times of social rejection and physical pain. Rejection and social isolation hurt, and this this is true for the opposite, connection and friendship provoke a feeling a joy, even bliss.
It’s not about how many friends you have or how many ‘likes’ you get on social media. The sense of social connection is internal. Therefore, if you feel connected to others from a place within, then you will reap the benefits. This is empowering, as we can take responsibility for our own state of mind and foster an internal sense of connection. Life’s circumstances don’t always allow for us to be surrounded by those we feel closest to, but we can still nurture our connections to them from within.
Some simple ways to create more social connectivity in your life include:
- Prioritise time spent with your family and friends, schedule it in and turn the TV off! Share experiences such as having meals together to strengthen connections.
- Be brave and initiate a conversation with someone new every day.
- Make the effort to phone people – it’s all too easy to get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people. If distance is a barrier use Skype or FaceTime.
- Think about a friend or family member who could do with some support and contact them. Acts of Altruism are a win-win!
- Join sporting teams, community groups or volunteer your time at local community groups, schools or hospitals.
- Recognise five people in your life that you feel you can turn to when you need to talk.
For your benefit and for those around you, be courageous, embrace new and old relationships in your life. Foster them from within and feel the immediate difference this makes to your sense satisfaction and well-being.