Did you know that a lack of social connection creates a greater health risk than smoking, obesity, or high blood pressure? Now, with all that is going on in the world right now that does not mean that we should ignore social distancing to maintain connection. Instead, we need to adapt and find new ways to connect with people while we are socially distancing.
Why is social connection important?
When you give and receive support you are building your own resiliency to stressful situations, as well as a number of other effects including:
- Feeling connected supports the human need for feeling like they belong, feeling supported, and feeling valued.
- Social connection generates positive feedback for social, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
- Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, as well as regulate your emotions.
- Social connection can build higher self-esteem and empathy, as well as improve your immune system.
- Social connection improves physical health and psychosocial well-being.
How can you ensure your social needs are being met?
There are 6 things to be mindful of for fostering healthy social connection. If you are finding it especially challenging to connect, a helpful tool would be cognitive self-hypnosis which helps you clarify what your specific needs are for social connection. It then gives you practice experiencing this through meditation and self-hypnosis so you can connect more effectively with your family and friends.
1. Each person’s need for social contact is a bit different
Most people are familiar with the concept of introverts and extraverts, and generally introverts require less social contact than extraverts. This will depend on the environment, situation, and the number of people involved. But a good way to know whether you need more or less is to reflect on whether that social connection is energizing you, or if it is draining you.
2. Focus on quality over quantity
It may feel tempting in these times to need to have an entire roster of people to call, but what will pose the most value is to have people who you feel really connected to who make you feel seen and valued.
3. Prioritize face-to-face interactions
With technology, it’s getting more and more accessible and easy to connect face-to-face across the city, country, or world. There’s so much more depth to a connection when you can read their facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. Using tools like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype and WhatsApp all offer video-chat features.
4. Deepen the relationship
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable helps you feel closer to others. As you feel comfortable, share more of yourself with others, and listen as they share more of themselves with you. Some ideas on how to connect deeper is to come up with a list of questions that you each answer and discuss your answers together. If you’re taking the lead on asking the questions, be mindful of not interrogating them. Show interest in their answers and listen to them so they feel heard by you. This mutual sharing & listening is what fosters feelings of connectedness.
5. See past any personal differences such as politics, religion, or lifestyle choices.
Accepting who someone is and how they think, doesn’t require for you to agree with them on all of their beliefs. Don’t judge others, take this as an opportunity to learn about a new perspective and accept who they are without judgement. You can still hold your own opinions and preferences.
6. Don’t dwell on rejection
It can be uncomfortable and even scary to attempt to deepen a relationship or connect with someone new. It’s okay to feel the fear of rejection, but don’t dwell on it. Know who you would like to connect with and suspend fears as you get to know who someone really is.
Ideas for fostering social connection while social distancing
- Family Dinners over Video Call: Whether your family is biological or self-selected, connecting over food is a great way to catch up. Set a time that you’ll all be sitting down together, and load up a Zoom call, Google Hangouts, Skype, or FaceTime.
- Virtual Game Night: There are lots of options for a virtual games! You can play Codenames online with friends, Jackbox has a series of fun virtual games, or play some traditional card games with family and friends online with PlayingCards.
- Watch a Movie: You can simply start a movie at the same time and chat on the phone or message back and forth during. Or if you’re watching Netflix, download the Netflix Party Chrome Extension and it will sync your video playback as well as open a chat room for everyone who wants to watch together.
- Instead of Texting, Send Video’s or Voice Memos: As mentioned previously, there’s so much more that can be read out of body language, facial expression, and tone of voice.
Looking for More Support During Social Distancing?
We’re doing everything we can to support our clients and community in these uncertain and unprecedented times. We’ve significantly discounted our services to make them more accessible, as well as will continue to create valuable content and resources. If you have any questions you’d like us to answer please submit them to us and we will answer them on our Facebook Page or develop a blog post around the topic. If you’d like to read more social distancing resources & information please check out our Supporting You Through Social Distancing page.